Toilet paper scarcity

Well, I'm just going to put this up here as a reminder for the future that this was the time that all of the toilet paper in the country was bought up and everyone started worrying if it'd ever be readily available again. I assume people won't start using more of it, so here's hoping.

A fellow I know told me there was nothing to worry about because when he was younger and went camping, they'd just use leaves. I reminded him that it's still winter and the only leaves are the ones on evergreens, which tend to be needles.

I don't make the rules

There are some indisputable laws we're all forced to concede: Gravity pulls on everything; nature abhors a vacuum; and honey works its way inexorably and despite all preventive measures, onto our clothes.

For crying out loud

I’m going to admit defeat, here. The weather app on my phone is rarely correct more than a day or two out, except when I challenge it to a duel. Then suddenly, it’s spot on. I predicted a week ago that today would be partly cloudy and 68. The phone said it’d be partly sunny and 67. It is with a sunken heart that I declare today’s weather to be 67 and mostly sunny and so, the phone was more accurate than I was. But I will point out, I was pretty damned close. I mean one degree off and a little fewer clouds. Come on, it does knock down the weather app’s magic a little, doesn’t it?

Okay, I’m bored with this.


Okay, once again, I’ve been bested. Last week I guessed this Sunday would be 72 and partly sunny and on Thursday, my weather app predicted 83 and mostly sunny. It turns out that it was 88 and sunny today, so the weather app has won for the second week in a row.

Now in my defense, I’ve guessed seven days out for two weeks in a row and the weather app had two and three days respectively for its predictions. I say they lucked out, but I’ll change the rules again, because I’m the one writing this and likely the only one paying attention to this competition. Next Sunday, according to my feelings, the weather for New Hampshire’s seacoast will be partly cloudy and 68. Checking the weather app on my phone, it’s saying: 67 and partly sunny. Ok. Truth be told I guessed before I looked at the app and it looks like we’re both guessing pretty close. But that’s the way these things work.

So we’ll see how we did. This could be a Price is Right kind of competition this week, where if it’s lower than 67, the app wins and if it’s over 68, I win. Here goes . . .

Sunday's game isn't about football

Well I’ve noted my weather app’s prediction for Sunday and it’s pretty different from what I guessed last week. To recap: I’m pitting my sheer guesses against my phone’s weather app to see which is more accurate. On Thursday, my phone told me that Sunday would be 83 and mostly sunny. Last week I guessed it would be 72 and partly sunny. Now all we have to do is wait.


It takes a big man to admit he’s wrong. In the challenge of me versus iPhone, it’s weather app 1; me 0. Ah well. The weather for Sunday is 77 and partly sunny. On Friday, the weather app correctly predicted 77 and partly sunny and that’s what it is. I had guessed 72 and partly cloudy (isn’t that basically partly sunny?) a week ago without any help from computers or satellites, etc. I was off by five degrees.

But I still think I’m onto something. I’m going to even things out just a hair. Let’s put the weather app back a day. Let’s see how accurate it is three days out. I’ll still stick with a week, just to show that I’m completely guessing. So next Sunday, I’m predicting, will be partly sunny and 72. I’ll check the ol’ weather app on Thursday and take a note of its prediction and we’ll go for another round . . .

Quiet everyone! The bet's on.

Last week I griped about the inaccuracy of my phone’s weather app and I predicted what the weather for this Sunday would be without the aid of any computers, satellites or the like. (Yes, I’ve used several different apps, but they all seem to be equally bad at predictions.) Yesterday I checked my app and it said tomorrow (Sunday) would be partly sunny and 77. My prediction last week was partly sunny and 72.

Now we play the waiting game. Let’s see who was more right. This is getting exciting, right?

Weather app, schmeather app

I’ve had a theory on weather predictions for the past decade or so. It goes like this: Sometime, long ago, an editor or manager of some news service told his meteorologist that it would be wonderful for circulation if he could predict the weather two days ahead instead of just one. The meteorologist, knowing his craft, said that to do so was folly. With the innumerable things that can affect weather, he said, accuracy wouldn’t be better than 50-50. One day, he relayed, was pushing it; two was a crapshoot. To hell with it, the editor replied. Give us two and people will think it’s better than nothing.

So the meteorologist started the two-day forecast and it was a hit. Despite its inaccuracy, the public figured this news outlet must know more than the others, something to do with modern technology.

Then the editor at a competing news organization asked his meteorologist why he wasn’t giving them two days, to which the man replied the same as the first: It’s nothing more than an educated guess. Well, dammit! We look like Johnny-Come-Latelys. Pump it up to three days! And so the second meteorologist did his best to predict three days out.

Then we had five-day forecasts, and then seven and now 10. How accurate is 10? They have trouble with hurricanes that far out, and those tend to be really big, so I’m guessing a 10-day prediction has some correlation to a broken clock being right twice a day.

Faithfully each morning I open the weather app on my phone and check the latest predictions for the coming days, and sure enough it’s just as apt to be wrong as right (often even on the same day) and I wondered how my random guesses would compare. So I’m going to try predicting the weather without any satellites, models or computers. It’s Sunday, so I’m going to guess the weather for Seacoast New Hampshire for next Sunday. That’s seven days out. Then I’ll note my phone’s prediction on Friday and keep up the guesses for the weeks or months after and see how complete guesses stack up.

Next Sunday, Sept. 17, in my area, will be partly cloudy and 72.

The game’s afoot!


• The number 0, in all its glory, wasn’t fully conceptualized until the seventh century — in India.
• A million-seconds ago was 12 days ago; a billion-seconds ago was 31 years ago; a trillion-seconds ago was 31,688 years ago.
• I’ve noticed that younger people don’t hustle or thank you when you stop your car for them to use the crosswalk; whereas older people generally do one or both (major cities with dozens crossing at the same time notwithstanding).
• All of the atoms in your body heavier than helium were produced in an exploding star.
• The sun is not a unique ball of fire. It is a yellow dwarf star, like 20 billion others in our galaxy alone.
• Birds don’t generally “feel the heat” from hot peppers. Capsaicin, the substance that causes the heat doesn’t affect them. The plant evolved to encourage birds to spread the seeds and discourage those pesky mammals.
• You can’t change other people; at best, you can control how much they affect you.
• Does anyone else find that food cooked in the microwave cools down faster than food cooked on the stovetop or in the oven?
• It’s possible that a billion years from now, on a planet a billion light years from here, an alien with a good enough telescope will be watching you go about your life.
• Reserve time every day to put down the phone and live in the real world.
• Does our depiction of Jesus resemble a man born in Iowa more than it does a man born in Palestine?
• I cannot bring myself to say his elected position followed by the name Trump.
• Everything takes longer than you think it will.
• If you want to eat better, start by adding more vegetables and fruit, not by cutting out the bad stuff. There’ll be less room for junk and you won’t feel you’re depriving yourself.
• I once read that organic food isn’t expensive; the alternative is just cheap.
• I listen to NPR a lot. During interviews, many educated young adults use “so” to begin answering a question.
• I’ve heard that the difference between American and Japanese education is that in America, the teacher is expected to teach, whereas in Japan, the student is expected to learn.
• Sandwiches are always better when someone else makes them.

Has this country gone insane with tipping?

Increasingly, I find myself in restaurants set up like McDonald’s, where I order at the counter and pick the food up myself when it’s ready. It’s efficient. No problem. But the latest trend seems to be paying on an iPad, where it asks if you want to leave a tip.

Okay, I’ll just get the obvious out of the way first: I tip wait staff because the laws in this country allow employers to pay them less than the minimum wage and those workers generally rely on tips to earn a living. It’s a crazy system, but that’s the way it goes.

But there’s no wait staff here. I stand in line to order. The food is set on the counter and I walk it to the seat myself. Nobody asks if I want a refill. Nobody asks me how everything is or brings me a bottle of Tabasco. Nobody tries to appear upbeat when they’d rather be off the clock. Nobody suggests menu items or keeps an eye on me in case I want something else. Then I clear the table myself. What exactly am I tipping for?

Traditionally, the server leaves the bill and you figure out a tip while they wander around for a few minutes. I leave at least 20 percent, even if the service is terrible. There’s a guilt that weighs upon me that this person is counting on me to pay his or her wages.

But in these restaurants, the cashier is staring directly at me as I pay the bill. What am I supposed to do, ask them to quantify a tip? The iPad spins around and I feel like a heel if I don’t leave one. Here’s 20 percent for punching my order into the computer. (I’ll concede there’s usually an option of 10, 15 or 20 percent or no tip).

Are the cashiers paid at wait staff wages? And even if they are, full tips have usually required dealing with customers for 45 minutes or an hour, however long they’re seated. A cashier can be done with you in under a minute. How can that possibly equate to 20 percent? Do they split the tip amongst the rest of the staff?

Part of me feels like I’m being nickled and dimed from the minute I step out of the house. Free parking is disappearing anywhere near my hometown. Convenience fees? Fees for not using a bank account? Airline seat selection? Checking baggage at the counter rather than online? Fees for talking to an actual person? Eighteen different phone and cable taxes? I leave tips at sandwich shops and ice cream stands. Now I have to tip so I can serve myself in a restaurant? What’s next, tipping the grocery store cashier?

I know I’m spitting into the wind, but how about we raise the menu prices enough to pay everyone a living wage and reserve tipping for when someone does an outstanding job? “Wow, that person was really great. I think I’ll show my appreciation.” Or at least reserve tipping for when someone actually does something.

I’ve read that there are restaurants toying with this idea and I like it. Apparently some people argue that it’s a disincentive for waiters and waitresses to do their jobs well, but I imagine those complaints are made by people who don’t even look at the wait staff when they’re being waited on. The idea might also lower take home pay for some servers and I’m against that, but it also ensures that the wait staff doesn’t get stiffed by cheap-asses.

And for anyone who wants to provide solutions, don’t bother. My inner guilt will always oblige me to leave a good tip and offer disgruntled mutterings to myself before I tuck in.


I’m not sure there could be a better way for me to open this website than with sincere apologies for mistakes I have made. And so I am sorry to those I have wronged. My regrets have much less to do with the ramifications on my own life than they do with the effects they’ve had on others.

I’ve acted unquestionably selfishly in the past and that disappoints me. I failed people, some of whom I don’t know, others for whom I deeply care. It reveals a flawed individual and for what it’s worth I have drawn lessons from those experiences. As I move forward, I can’t say that I will always make selfless decisions, but I will strive to.

I now embrace the goal of leading a more healthy life. There’s nothing I can do to change the past; I can only learn from it and advance in a new direction. I am a more open person than I was and I believe that honesty is part of being healthier.

My thoughts and beliefs will flow through these pages in the coming months and years. I fully expect that I will change as I grow into a new life, but my plan is to remain honest. If comments offend, please know it was unintentional. If the lessons I’ve learned inspire others to change their lives, so much the better.
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