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Thinking of a Midnight Flight? Maybe Think Again

moonlight san diego

Despite being known as the red-eye, a midnight flight may sound pretty groovy. You get to drive to the airport long after rush hour. The check-in and security lines are less hectic, the airport less crowded and the wait less harrowing.

Once you board the plane, all you need to do is plop on your noise-cancelling headset, put on a meditation CD, and quickly fall asleep. Sleeping will be easy, you say, since it’s during your normal bedtime, right?

You may as well start laughing now. Better yet, start crying, which is something that will happen anyway if your midnight flight goes anything like mine did.

An Easy Start

I tried a midnight flight from Arizona to Florida. Nonstop was not an option at any hour, and midnight was the only flight that didn’t have a layover of at least four hours. Let’s try it, said I, see what happens.

The drive to the airport was smooth, as were the check-in and security lines. The airport was kind of creepy-cool without its usual hustle and bustle. The plane boarded easily and on time.

A Rocky Middle

Then the real fun began. I plopped on my headset, inserted meditation CD, and was drifting blissfully off to sleep when BLAM!

The woman behind me decided to use my head as some kind of kind of support shelf for standing up. Her entire forearm meatily landed across the entire top of my skull, knocking my headset asunder and any bliss right out of my mind.

She had apparently lost her balance or something and apologized immediately. But the damage had already been done.

A Horrific End

Sleep was lost, but I could at least still meditate, no? I continued to breathe deeply as instructed by the meditation stuff I’ve always read: in through my nose, out through my mouth. In through my nose, out through my mouth. Deeper and deeper, in through my nose, out through my mouth, as the Hemi-Sync CD played on.

At about the fifth inhale, I noticed a rancid stench permeating my nostrils. At first I thought someone just had gas and the odor would fade away. But instead it got stronger. Stronger. And even stronger. Inhaling through my nose at all was no longer an option, deeply or otherwise. Even breathing through my mouth was making my eyes water.

It ended up the kid next to me had pooed his pants.

By the time the parent woke up and took the tot to the bathroom, more damage had already been done from this one. Not only to the air around us, but also to the airplane seat. The kid, alas, had been beyond diaper age so the seat had no protection. The parent came back with a stack of airplane bathroom towels to cover the seat for the duration of the flight.

Although the odds of getting smashed across the the skull and permeated with poo smell may be slim on subsequent midnight flights, the flight can still be a painful experience if you don’t get any sleep. And based on the potpourri of pitfalls available, the chances of not getting sleep may be extremely high indeed.

Bon voyage!

Looking for something to pass the time on any flight? Snag one of rynski’s books today!

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How to Justify the Expense of a Robot Vacuum

robot vacuum and dogs

Robot vacuums have come a long way since the primitive round things that swirled around aimlessly and got stuck on even the thinnest fiber of carpet. Today’s models have a flat side for more effective pickups, along with a systematic pattern of vacuuming that leaves nothing in their wake. The best of them can conquer everything from multiple throw rugs to wads of dog hair with Cheerios and small wood chips in between.

The only problem is the high cost of a really good one, which can make you feel like you’re spending your hard-earned cash on a frivolous or needless thing. You’re not. A high-quality robot vacuum is definitely worth the investment, saving you tons of money in the long run.

Automatic $300 Savings

Your first order of business is to get a rocking deal. Research robot vacuums, finding one that costs more than you’d pay for even a new bicycle or pair of glasses. A few robot vacs in the $1,000 range qualify. Your next step is to review the features, decide which you need, and then find a $700 robot vacuum that does the same kind of stuff.

  • Money Saved: $300 right off the bat

Time Spent with Traditional Vacuum

Now tally up the time spent with your traditional vacuum on a regular basis. If you’re like most, you spend hours you don’t even realize with that archaic thing. First there’s the hassle of digging it out of the closet. This is followed by the tedious task of unwinding the cord and then moving piles of stuff away from any given outlet to plug it in.

Since you have a penchant for shag carpeting, dragging the thing across the living room always leaves your beau with back pain. Then there’s the bin emptying, the filter cleaning, and the three hours spent dousing your nostrils in essential oil to combat the musky dog smell the vacuum always spews anyway.

Your time tally can easily come to more than four hours a week with a traditional vacuum. Say you charged something like $10 per hour for your vacuum time, that’s $40 a week on labor alone, not to mention pain and suffering. Multiply the $40 of weekly labor by 52 weeks in the year, and you’re looking at $2,080.

  • Money Saved: $2,080 in annual vacuum-related labor

Pain and Suffering from Traditional Vacuum

The physical, mental and emotional anguish of using a traditional vacuum can be high, especially when you know there are high-tech robot vacs on the market. Pain and suffering easily weighs in at something like $1,500 a year. (Triple this calculation if you have to meddle with vacuum bags.)

  • Money Saved: $1,500 in annual vacuum-related pain and suffering

 Vet Bills for Dog Anxiety

You’re not the only one who suffers with the old-school vacuum. Think of the poor dogs. Every time they see you heading to the closet to unleash the mean old vacuum, they bolt in abject terror. Not only are they scared of the tall monster thing, but they suffer from a breach of trust as they see their beloved master is behind it.

It can take some mighty calming down, and maybe even a few vet visits, to get your pooches back to normal after repeated exposure to the old-school vacuum monster.

  • Money Saved: $400 per year for dog anxiety treatments

Bottom Line

While there are a few more categories you can certainly include, such as the enjoyment of a new family member that adds $0 to your grocery bill, you may be already convinced that a robot vacuum is definitely worth its salt.

Ours is a Neato Botvac Connected we lovingly named Julio. He doesn’t stink. He vacuums more thoroughly than his traditional counterpart. His back never hurts after cleaning shag carpet. And he gets along fabulously with the dogs. Not only that, but we’re saving at least $4,280 per year by adding him to our household. What a dandy savings, indeed!

robot vacuum and dog
Robot vacuum Julio and dog Elmo are becoming fast friends (as long as Julio doesn’t suck up Elmo’s treats).
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Jerk o’ the Week: Woeful William

woeful william common jerk

The following is an excerpt from the Little Book of Big Jerks to give you a sneak peek at the types of jerks you’ll meet inside the guide to dealing with difficult people.

Woeful William

Just like everything King Midas touched turn to gold, everything Woeful William touches turns to, well, crap. This guy is a magnet for really bad luck.

His roof leaks. His car stalls. His pants rip. His cat hates him. At one time you actually had sympathy for the chap until you read somewhere that people with woeful outlooks actually cause their own bad luck. Now you just feel like shaking him.

3 Giveaway Traits:

  • Inspired a record number of sad country songs
  • Has had a long lineup of pets that hated him, died tragically, or both
  • Always has an empty chair on either side of him at group lunches and dinners

How to Deal:

Leave at least two empty chairs between yourself and him.

How Else to Deal:

Check out the cool jerk-fighting tools in the Little Book of Big Jerks. Real-life solutions for dealing with real-life jerks.

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The Four Agreements: What Happens when They Go Wrong (Part 2)

four agreements metal sign

There is no law that makes people follow the four agreements. There doesn’t need to be. The personal anguish we feel when we decide to ignore these dandy guidelines for living is typically penalty enough.

As a refresher, The Four Agreements are outlined in a book by Don Miguel Ruiz. And those agreements are:

  1. Be impeccable with your word.
  2. Never take anything personally.
  3. Don’t make assumptions.
  4. Always do your best.

We already looked at what happens when the first two agreement go wrong in a previous post. Now it’s time to tackle the second set. Ready?

don't make assumptions

Don’t Make Assumptions

Yeah, we know. Making assumptions makes an ASS of U and Me. But some of us do it anyway. And although the pithy little phrase is amusing, the outcome is usually not. An assumption is filling in the blanks, or making up a truth when we’re not sure what the actual truth may be.

Making assumptions is along the same lines as having expectations. When we assume or expect something will go a certain way, and then it doesn’t, we end up annoyed, enraged, or downright devastated. One of my favorite sayings reminds us: Expectations are resentments waiting to happen.

Example of Third Agreement Gone Wrong

An organization asked if I’d like to cover and event to write up a story for their publication. Heck yes, said I, assuming the daylong assignment would give me a hefty day’s pay. The event was, after all, three hours long, involved a three-hour round-trip drive, involved taking tons of notes and spending another three hours writing up an article in all its detailed glory.

Nine hours of work should bring in a pretty good check, thought I, something like $500 with gas money and other travel expenses. Man, I could even cut back on other work for the rest of the week, perhaps take an extra day off or buy a new pair of boots!

I submitted the article with glee. They sent me a check for $100.

The work was done and the pay was non-negotiable. Had I asked about the final rate, instead of assuming it was what I wanted it to be, the story would have had an entirely different outcome. For starters, I wouldn’t have accepted the gig to write it.

fourth agreement do your best

Fourth Agreement: Always Do Your Best

Although this agreement may look pretty simple at a glance, it can actually be one of the tougher ones. That’s because it’s easy to make excuses to skip it.

We can pretend any of our half-baked efforts are the best we can do at any given time, even when we know in our souls that’s not true. We also tend to rush through things we find menial or annoying just to get them done.

Doing a crummy job on any task is going to leave you feeling crummy yourself. Trust me. Whether you’re performing brain surgery or washing a fork, always doing your best will always be worth it. This reminds me of another spot-on saying: How you do anything is how you do everything.

Example of Fourth Agreement Gone Wrong

Alas, the example of the fourth agreement gone wrong contains yet another work incident. You’d think all I do is sit around and work.

In any event, this situation arose in a past job where I was tasked with putting labels and stamps on Christmas cards to send out to the hundred or so clients.

“What crap,” I thought, “a waste of my skills. A blind monkey could do this.” I then grumbled along, slapping a label here, pasting a stamp there, and dribbling coffee here, there and everywhere in my haste to finish this seemingly crappy task as quickly as possible.

When I was done, the pile of cards looked horrible. The blind monkey who could have done the task could have certainly done it better.

Labels and stamps were all crooked and smudged. Envelope corners were bent and speckled with coffee. This outcome was not my best. It was probably one of my worst. My boss wasn’t happy. I felt rotten, mainly because my haughty attitude and actions ended up disappointing one of the best bosses I ever did have.

Even though the task appeared to be a rather minor one, it needed to be done precisely as it reflected on the entire image of the company sending the cards. Yes, many of the cards needed to be redone, although I truly did my best the second time around.

Following the four agreements cannot only save you time and heartache, but it can likewise help ensure you don’t drive 300 miles for measly pay, disappoint your favorite boss, or end up losing your job to a blind monkey who can do your work better than you do.

Want to keep the four agreements top of mind? Check out Four Agreement art.

four agreements art

 

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