Tag Archives: Shopping

Life‌ ‌Protips‌ ‌#1:‌ ‌Protips‌ ‌for‌ ‌Life‌ ‌(The‌ ‌First‌ ‌One)‌

A friend at work mentioned he was tossing around the idea for a “life protips” series on YouTube in a very tentative, brainstormy kinda way. I guess I thought about it enough that my insomnia-riddled brain at 3 a.m. started coming up with my own list of life protips. It’s a stupid enough idea to make a quick post about it here.

Number blog posts even if there isn’t a series. Just put a #1 at the start to save yourself the trouble even if you never make a second post.

Check the toilet paper before you ‘get started!’ When you first enter a bathroom make sure there is enough toilet paper to clean yourself. You can always enter another stall or quickly grab another roll, but once your ass has shit all over it you’re stuck on the toilet unless you want to get shit in your underwear. Do yourself a favor and check before you use the toilet.

Check the seat before you sit down! Who knows what sort of fluids are on the toilet. Before you drop your pants and plop down, inspect the seat and clean it as needed. No one wants to sit in some stranger’s piss.

Check the shopping cart before you enter the store! No one wants to load their cart up with a hundred pounds of food and junk to find out one wheel is shit, drags, and pulls to one side. Check it before you start shopping and get a better cart right away. Save your wrist and back from constantly steering to one side to go straight.

Load heavy shit in the back of your shopping cart! Yes, another shopping cart protip. Because shopping is such a pain in the ass experience you want to make it as easy on yourself as possible. By putting heavy shit in the rear of your cart you’re minimizing the angular momentum when you need to turn the cart. There’s some physics involved here, but by moving heavy stuff closer to the center of rotation (the rear wheels) you minimize how much force it takes to turn the cart. Try it out and thank me later.

Always get a shopping cart! This is the last tip about shopping carts, I promise. Never grab those shitty little baskets you have to carry. Sure, you think you’re going in the store for milk, eggs, and bread, but you know your hungry ass is going to load up with way more food than you initially planned for. Do you want to haul twenty pounds of heavy shit in a basket? No. There is no downside to grabbing a cart even if you’re “only grabbing a few items.” Carts have wheels, baskets don’t, so just grab a fucking cart.

Use the self-checkouts near the pharmacy, not near the grocery section! All Walmart’s seem to have this setup: groceries on one end of the store and the pharmacy on the other. Both sides of the store have similar self-checkout lanes with one key difference; most people are at the store to buy food, not lightbulbs/toys/toothpaste. Everyone goes to the lanes nearest to the grocery section because most people are stupid. Take the time to walk down to the other end of the store to check-out and you’ll save five or ten minutes not waiting in line.

Leave a dedicated roll of paper towels in the garage! These do not leave the garage! If they run out, replace them. You never know when you’re going to get your hands dirty fucking around with the random shit in a garage. Need to air the car tires up? Well now you have brake dust and road grime on your fingertips even if it was a simple task. They’re also great for spontaneous window cleaning when you’re bored in the summer or for changing oil. This also saves your sink from being destroyed.

Speaking of paper towels, use their empty cardboard rolls to wrap Christmas lights around! Put the female cord in one end, wrap the strand around the roll, and you’ll be treated to tangle-free lights 9-10 months later. I learned this from my grandpa who I thought was a goddamn genius for using this method. As with all amazing protips, it’s a lifesaver with zero downside. Just fucking do it.

Open bananas from the bottom! Don’t open them from the stalk — this is the tough section of a banana and usually just smashes the fruit to a pulp before you can get it open. Pinch the bottom and start peeling for an unblemished banana experience. Big thanks to my old boss Coach Dave at Sam’s Club for this protip. He was kind of a douche at times, but I’ll always be fond of his banana protip.

Only charge your phone to 70-80%! Lithium batteries wear out faster if you constantly charge them to 100%. Phone companies don’t want you to know this and don’t lock their batteries at 80% charge because you’ll fork over money on a new phone in two years after you’ve wrecked your battery. Battery swaps are difficult with sealed phones, so stick it to Big Electronics and save your phone’s battery life. (Big post about this coming soon…)

Do not put knives into the soapy water! I learned this one from my mom and my grandma. Grandma would always put knives in the dishwater with everything else and blindly reaching into the water would give her fingers a nasty cut every week or two. How many times do you need to cut yourself before you figure out a better technique to not get injured? Anyways, my mom would stress to me the importance of not putting the sharp objects into the sudsy water and it’s such a good idea why would you do it any other way? Set the damn knives aside and wash them individually, unless you enjoy washing your dishes with bloody water for some reason.

Clean ceiling vans by turning them on reverse! Have a fan covered in cat/dog hair and dust on the windward side of the blades? Too lazy to get a ladder and properly clean them? Fans have a switch on them that reverses their rotation; if you do this and crank the speed to ‘high’ most of the dust will fall into the floor like dirty, disgusting snow flakes. Vacuum these up and your fan will be kind of clean. It won’t be spotless (thanks to something called the ‘boundary layer’) but it’s good enough if you’re lazy.

Clean coffee makers with vinegar. Hard water builds up in the internal plumbing and can quickly turn your coffee maker into a useless item for your garbage can. You do not want to wake up unable to make coffee. Run some vinegar through the thing monthly to have a clean and efficient coffee maker that won’t give you a severe caffeine-withdrawal headache when it spontaneously shits out.

Make Kool-Aid/powdered drinks with hot water. Not a lot of hot water — just enough to dissolve all of the sugar — and you’ll have an easy time at it. Sugar dissolves slower in cold water meaning you need to stir your Lipton tea forever until you drink it. Fill up the cup/jug about 25%, add hot water, and mix in the powder. Once dissolved, add cold water. Sure it won’t be as cold as it could be, but it saves a few minutes of frustratingly stirring waiting for it to dissolve.

Uhhhhhh….that’s all I have right now.

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Holiday Shopping Sucks: Difficult People to Shop For

Note: I’m posting this fully from the mobile app. While I did most of the heavy lifting on PC, I’ve never actuall posted from the WordPress app, so please excuse any screwed up formatting.

Today, at least the day I’m trying to write a draft for this post, is the 17th. This leaves me eight days to get my Christmas shopping done, and unless I want to pay a fortune for shipping it all but eliminates any online options. Hell, the stuff I ordered on Amazon three days ago might not show up until after the holidays thanks to me being as cheap as possible and selecting the “free shipping” option at checkout. That isn’t relevant here; what is relevant is that time is running out. Time is always running out but the Christmas season really puts it starkly into view. You’re left with a month or so (depending on how bad your procrastination is) to buy a small mountain of gifts for your friends/family. What should be a joyous time to show your love and appreciation for people turns into a fucking chore. You have to buy them gifts. It also seems to be a busy time of year, especially for idiots like myself in the package shipping/delivery business, where you find yourself with days slipping and flying by without making any progress whatsoever on your shopping list.

Luckily I only have a handful of people to still buy gifts for, but one thing seems clear: these people are all similar in what makes them hard to shop for. I’ve noticed there’s the “I don’t want any presents” type of person, and the person that simply doesn’t like anything. And there’s also the type of person who you have no fucking clue what they would want, who might be an off-shoot of one of the previously mentioned types from above. This gave me a fun idea, at least where blogging is concerned: maybe I can bitch about the types of people you need to shop for? Categorize these fuckers who are so hard to find gifts for? While it won’t save my ass in the remaining eight days I have, it will make me feel somewhat productive on the blogging front. Gotta rake in those views while you can, right?

The People You Don’t Even Know

This is an easy category: people you don’t know. Who comes to mind here? I’m thinking my cousin’s kids actually. (Are they second cousins or cousins once removed? I don’t know.) I have no goddamn clue what they like to do for fun or what their hobbies are — and I can barely spell their names properly — so obviously how am I supposed to shop for them? There is also the question as to how close people need to be to you to buy them gifts? The social cues and all. Our family is so poor that I don’t have to buy them gifts really, but my point isn’t that, it’s that some people you don’t even know vaguely enough to buy them presents. This usually requires you to ask their parents what they want, and damn if they don’t even know. “Just get them gift cards to McDonald’s,” I’ve really been told before. Yikes. How about a few $20 bills instead?

The “I Don’t Want Anything” People

This is my dad. You can’t get anything out of him. Making this even worse is that he’s also from the next category: people who don’t have hobbies. I’ll touch on that in a bit because that’s what really makes these people shitty to shop for. I’m one of them myself, but at least I have interests and hobbies that could still point people in the right direction for a gift even if I really don’t want one. Someone could still find something for me if they really wanted to do so.

And as for myself: I really, seriously, actually don’t want anything. It isn’t a matter of being gracious or anything; I just don’t want a damn thing for Christmas. Usually if I need something I’ll go buy it myself, or the things I do need are so specific that I don’t want to trust people gifting them to me. They always buy sort of the right thing but not quite the right thing. I just don’t need any presents. Sometimes you’re the one who is shitty to shop for, at least for other people. And I’m well-aware it’s frustrating for others. I’m basically complaining about myself here and yes I suck and am hard to shop for.

People With No Hobbies

As stated before, the real shitty thing with my dad is not that he doesn’t want any gifts, it’s the fact that he really doesn’t do anything either. My dad’s day, while I’m not 100% certain about it, goes something like this: he wakes up. He eats food that is shitty for his health. He turns the TV on to it doesn’t really matter. (He also has antenna TV so no fancy cable, WiFi, or anything really, just local stations.) He smokes cigarettes. He falls asleep on the couch. He drives to my grandma’s/my uncle’s to help do random shit for them. He goes to work. He sleeps. Repeat.

Not to gripe too much about my parents again (go here I guess) but I really think my dad struggles with depression. He’s a man without interests or hobbies and I think depression is to blame. Whatever the cause is doesn’t matter: try to figure out a gift for a person who literally does nothing for fun or enjoyment. What do I do, get him a pack of cigarettes or something? A gift card for a gas station? Pay one of his electric bills? Give him a free month on the phone bill?

People with Complex Hobbies/Hobbies You Know Nothing About

Some people are really passionate about things, but to such a degree that you simply can’t buy them any actual gifts. Think about the hardcore musician/guitarist. They’re probably so in the thick of their musical passion that they have a favorite brand/size of guitar strings, about twenty effects pedals they use, a certain type of pick they use, and so on. You couldn’t even get them a handful of guitar picks without buying the hopelessly wrong item, even if it is only slightly wrong. They’re so far along in their hobby that you have to know the details of it even to attempt to buy them a gift. Let’s also not forget the high cost of having an upper-level hobby. Buying someone a $100 beginner’s guitar is one thing — buying someone a $5,000 upper end guitar is a whole other level of insanity.

A good example here is, well, my dad again. You see before he was super depressed he was very much into photography but was so far along that you couldn’t buy him anything for it. His few cameras and lenses literally cost thousands of dollars. What would you get a person like this? An SD card? When he already had about five of them? A tripod? Because the two he already had somehow weren’t good enough? A fucking monopod? No. Even if he did have a hobby he was so deep into the hobby that there was nothing you could really buy him.

People Who Want Uninspired Gifts

I also despise people who give you tons of gift ideas but where they’re all uninspired gifts — gifts you can’t sink any meaning or thought into. Like a sweater. Or pants. Perhaps clothes in general. A certain video game. They seem so bland and boring because you simply buy the exact same item they want and there is zero creativity on the gift-giver. Part of the fun of buying gifts is honing in on what they love and surprising them with it. Showing them that yes you do pay attention and care about them and resorting to buying bland gifts just feels so, well, bland. I’ve given up buying my aunts and uncles candles because they’re so damn boring. I’ve just given up.

I want to get something that promotes self-expression or hobbies or your passions in life. Buying a goddamn pair of socks for someone — even if they really fucking want socks — just seems so shitty.

Note: This is a grey area really as you can have “uninspired sounding” gifts that are really inspired. Consider someone who really likes knee-high, multicolored and mismatched, fuzzy toe socks. Getting them “just socks” would be boring as fuck while getting them some crazy, ridiculous socks would be “thoughtful.” Context matters I guess?

People Who Want Gifts They Won’t Even Like

What happens when someone asks for The Sims (or any PC game really) when they only have a shitty five year old laptop that barely loads or operates at all. When you know their gift idea is total shit but can’t tell them this because they want it really badly. You buy it for them, begrudgingly, and they hate it and never use it.

I think kids are very terrible in this aspect because they live in the fantasy of the gift and not the reality. Another example: battery-powered cars. Their own car! That they can drive! Wow! What about in the winter when you can’t use it? What about when you lose the charger and can’t charge the battery? What about when the battery is dead but the kids really want to drive it? These really aren’t winter/Christmasy gifts, but think about trampolines and swimming pools: all the work required for something that will be ignored in a few weeks.

It seemed I had more to say about this topic especially because it applies to capitalism-in-general’s power to convince people to buy shit that they don’t really want or need. I also thought I had more examples but hopefully you get the idea. It’s grandma asking for the hottest and latest “As Seen on TV” product. No grandma, you don’t need Flex-Seal to fix a leaky boat. You don’t own a leaky boat.

The Deep Gifts that are Impossible to Find

I hold the belief that people really don’t know what they want in life, and Christmas gifts are no different. I say this because of a few childhood experiences I’ve had. I was like everyone else and had no real idea what the hell I wanted, and I mean deep down inside what I wanted. I was the typical kid who would ask for video games, toys, legos, etc. and while I liked these things, they never really resonated with me in a crazy life-changing way.

You might wonder what the hell I’m getting at here, but around 1998 or so I received this game I didn’t know existed called Flight Simulator ‘98. It was, as you can guess, a flight simulator game but it wasn’t like all the other shitty aviation games I had played up until that point. It wasn’t some shitty combat game; it was a simulator. Twelve year old me took quite a while for this fact to set it because I literally had to figure out how to fly an airplane in a fairly realistic way, but I eventually figured it out.

I use this as an example of a deep gift because of how much this stupid game changed my life. I was an avid flight simmer and owned every game until the line was discontinued with Flight Simulator X. And I didn’t just play the game like a casual; I was serious about it. I made flight plans and used actual approach charts and tried to keep things as realistic as possible. While already being a huge aviation nerd, the Flight Simulator series cemented my love of piloting and basically taught me to fly airplanes. When I actually began taking flight lessons I already had a ton of the basics down. And when it came time to get the dreaded instrument rating? I was a goddamn pro at flying with instruments because I had been doing so on shitty PCs since 1998!

These are the kind of gifts I would love to get people: the presents that they don’t even know they want. Some random gift that they’re not sure about but they will remember decades later that might even change their lives. I’ve tried to get a few gifts like these over the years, but nothing seems to have stuck. Maybe you can’t gift these things deliberately and they have to be “happy accidents.” I’m sure my parents buying this for me was an accident with their thought process being something like, “He likes planes. This is a ‘plane game.’ Let’s buy him this.”

In closing

I suppose dealing with people like this wouldn’t be very bad in isolation, like for a singular birthday or something, but when there is one holiday where you buy everyone stuff it becomes a chore. I only have about four or five people left to shop for, but everyone of them fits into at least one of the categories I just bitched about. Buying gifts for people who don’t want anything, hunting for presents for people who want stuff they won’t even like, and so on. I’m sure I’ve forgotten a handful of other frustrating people types, so let me know what type of people make your holidays total hell.