#17 – Money Clip

April 9, 2009


As a kid, I spent hours watching the Fresh Prince of Bel Air.  I am convinced more people know the lyrics to that theme song than know the national anthem.  I once even asked a hair stylist to cut my hair similar to Will Smith’s flat-top.  Apparently, it was problematic.  On my 13th birthday, I used the check my grandparents mailed me to buy a money clip similar to one I had seen Will Smith use on TV.  I didn’t have a lot of money, so I had my mom convert a twenty dollar bill into twenty one-dollar bills at the bank, wrapped it around my family blockbuster card, and secured it with the clip.  This was a terrible idea.  The money clip is not only useless but somewhat dangerous.

Every time i took the money clip out of my pocket,  cards or dollar bills slipped out.  I would fumble around searching for exact change, flipping through each bill.  Nephareous characters would peer over as i waived my clip in the air.  Its a miracle I wasn’t robbed.  In short, the money clip is both ineffective and attracts unwanted attention.  From now on its only velcro wallets with palm trees on them.

#16 – PUBLIC RESTROOMS: Sensored Toilets, Press-faucets, and Hand Dryers.

January 22, 2009


Last week I jumped on a Boeing 747 on route to Boston.  But, before I could board my flight there were a few things that needed to be taken care of.  Airplane bathrooms tend to be problematic because of my height, so I opted to use the bathroom at the airport instead.  Normally, I will exert samurai-like focus and do whatever it takes to avoid using public restrooms, but this was an emergency. Filled with censored toilets, press-faucets, and hand dryers, the bathroom was a land mine of booby traps.

The first obstacle to traverse was the sensored toilet.  The thought of having my naked rear pressed against a plastic toilet seat that thousands of people from around the world had used before me was not very appealing, so I grabbed the last paper toilet seat.  Not a second after I had set the paper down, the toilet flushed and took the last paper toilet seat with it.  I got a little resourceful and created a makeshift toilet seat cover using five strips of toilet paper, but that too was flushed away.  I began to feel as if I would never be able to defecate.  After two more attempts i was finally able to sit down and do my business. 

I went to wash my hands.  The faucet handles had to be pressed down to start the water flow.  I pressed the faucet, reached to grab some soap from the dispenser, and ran my hand under the faucet.  As the soap started to lather the water stopped.  I used my forearm to press the handle, but after a few seconds the water stopped again.  I ended up pressing the handle with my forearm 5 times before my hands were clean.

When i went to dry my hands there were no paper towels so I used the hand dryer.  Although I fully support the new ultra-powerful Xlerators, the original hand dryer might be one of the worst inventions since the Chindogu (press for link).  They take forever, require you to wait in line, and still leave your hands a little wet.  Usually when I’m done drying my hands i like to use the paper towel to open the handle of the bathroom door, and then dispose of the paper towel by shooting a little jump shot into the trash can.  With the hand dryer, i have to either use my sleeve as a glove or wait for someone else to open the door.

I use to wonder how men’s bathrooms got so nasty.  I mean, how hard is it to aim for the toilet seat?  It feels like someone just decided one day to piss on the walls.  Now, I understand it: These are people who have been pushed to the brink.

#15 – ATM Machines: Financial Russian Roulette

January 15, 2009


As you probably guessed, I tend to be pretty frugal with my spending.  This might explain why my current credit union is located above a carpet warehouse.  I usually opt for small banks or credit unions with high interests rates and low penalties. Unfortunately, this makes withdrawing funds difficult and I often use ATMs. I have had ample time to evaluate ATM design/placement and I’ve concluded that its flawed.

Today I grabbed some food from the school commissary.  The commissary only takes cash so I had to go to the ATM.  Located in the university union are 4 ATM machines:  3 from Bank of America and another from CitizenBank. The line was clear, so I decided to check the service charge on each machine to find out which was cheapest. As expected,  there were different charges between the CitizenBank and Bank of America machines; however, what was infuriating was that the Bank of America machines, located 15 paces away from one another, had different services charges as well! For over a year I’ve been paying 50 cents more then I need too because of fraudulent ATM placement. Given that I go to the ATM about 2 times a week, and there are 52 weeks in a year, thats 52 dollars I’m owed (ill be writing Bank of America a stern letter).  This is a prime example of Banks exploiting information asymmetry to undermine basic principles of supply and demands.  Banks know you probably trust that the service charge difference is negligible and won’t bother to check , so there is no incentive for them to consider the prices of neighboring machines when setting their rates.

Anyways, I ended up using the cheaper Bank of America machine.  Like 70% of ATM machines, this one required inserting your card into the machine. This always makes me nervous.  Im never completely sure whether the cash or the card will be ejected first or if ill have enough time to grab both.  Im also worried that the machine with either malfunction or I’ll just forget the ATM card altogether. This entire system of inserting ATM cards into machines is ridiculous.  In what other scenario do I let something that valuable just part my side. Suppose your taking a cab and the driver doesn’t have change.  If the cab driver were to say “give me your hundred and I’ll drive to the Supermarket get change and comeback,” what would you say?  I ‘d probably ask if I could borrow his car for the weekend.  

Inserting your ATM card into the machine is like playing russian roulette with your finances.  I propose a mandate on all ATM machines to use a slide based reader and system of rate control for ATM service charges.

New Email: email.nuisances@gmail.com

January 7, 2009

All comments and suggestions can now be sent to email.nuisances@gmail.com

#14 – Communal Showers

January 7, 2009

In the west wing of my high school locker room were 8 open showers.  In my four years of varsity tennis I saw a lot things happen, but I never once saw a person use the shower. There is something very uncomfortable about the communal shower and its not the water pressure.

I sometimes like to go swimming at the YMCA. The YMCA kind of reminds me of the public library: most of the people that go there are normal, but there are a few weirdos that hang out all day. I changed into my turquoise  swim trunks, grabbed 3 towels from the towel service (excessive?), and walked to the shower. I forgot my sandals so I was walking on the heels of my feet. Like most public pools, the YMCA requests users to shower before entering the pool. After a few minutes rinsing in the shower, I noticed something unusual: I was the only one wearing swim trunks.

Communal showers are bizarre and unnecessary. In no other environment is it appropriate for a 60 year old man and a 12 year boy to be naked 3 inches away from one another. My entire life i have been taught to respect personal boundaries. The group shower has none. In a recent poll 57% of respondents claimed to have showered at high school communal baths. 82% wash their genitalia while in the communal shower. How can this be normal? In high school I could barely put the moves on a girl (I’m still learning), let alone get naked with a bunch of random guys in the shower. The only place the communal shower seems appropriate is at the beach and in maximum security prisons (i consider it part of the punishment).

I move to have all communal showers remodeled to incorporate some sort of curtain divider.

#13 – Plastic Packaging

January 3, 2009

The other day I went to Radioshack.  I sometimes wonder how this store stays open.  The only people I ever see in there are either buying three dollars worth of copper wire or little kids playing with the display keyboard.  Usually I would go to Best Buy, but I was on my way to the airport and Radioshack was conveniently located near the subway.  I bought a pair of 17 dollar headphones (they broke 4 days later) and then jumped on the train to catch my flight. 

The headphones came in a hard sealed plastic package.  I initially tried to open the packaging with my finger nails, but they aren’t very long and the hard plastic was irritating my skin.  I tried using keys to separate the plastic, but there was no room to wiggle it around.  I even tried cutting it open with the little scissors on my key chain swiss army knife, but the plastic was too hard and the scissors too small.  Running out of options, I decided to try my super-human bite (i perfected this as a kid chewing pen caps).  I was able to puncture a slight hole in the plastic with my canine teeth and then used my arms to try and tear open the package.  At first the package wouldn’t open, so I used a little elbow grease and gave it one final heave.  The package ripped open, sending the headphones onto the floor of the crowded subway train.

Plastic packaging is inconvenient, a public health concern, and a clear nuisance to all who use it.  Even with scissors, considerable force is needed to tear the package open.  Furthermore, plastic packaging is generally made from PVC, which contains lead and phthalates, both of which have been linked to premature birth defects, low sperm count, and possibly the ebola virus.  The use of these chemicals makes PVC plastic difficult to recycle, which contributes to landfill overflow. The great state of California is even considering a ban on PVC plastic.  

I move to ban the use of PVC plastic and switch to a more convenient and less durable alternative that provides for easy removal and disposal.  Examples are cardboard, or plastic made from PET with a click seal (as opposed to the kind you have to cut open).

(Special Thanks to Katherine for Suggesting this Post).

#12 – Over Designed Jeans

December 29, 2008


I recently moved back home and was short on clothes  (I didn’t pack much), so I started looking through my closet to see what I could salvage.  In a box next to my Nike Pumps and a copy of the 1999 Guinness Book of World Records I found four pairs of denim jeans, all of which are now useless.  It wasn’t that they didn’t fit, they were just some of the ugliest things I had ever seen.  

Several years ago someone got the idea that any person could have that rugged denim jean look.  The look that says, “my jeans are worn because i do hours of muscle rippling manual labor.”  Such jeans were intentionally made to look heavily used with frayed back pockets.  This look was a favorite among rock bands like Christian Rock sensations, Creed.  Sometime between then and now the look mutated into a Godzilla Like monster.  Jeans were sandblasted green.  Tears began to show up in odd places, and strange henna inspired designs made their way onto the back of pants.  Today, the over designed jean is widely worn by Beverly Hills Persians, Guidos, and the 27 – 35 crowd.

The jeans I found in my closet were of this kind.  Although I am not proud of my past, I am willing to leave that part of my life FAR behind, and I think the rest of the world should too.  I move to have all over designed jeans recycled and turned into a denim blankets by the year 2010.  If this proves too labor intensive, they might also be cut into small squares and used as wash cloths.

#11 – Organic Deodorant

December 26, 2008


Yesterday I ran out of deodorant.  I tried to barrow my sister’s but she wasn’t having it, so I grabbed some from Whole Foods while I was getting lunch.  I should have anticipated that the deodorants would all be organic.  There were a lot of brands I had never heard of.  I think a few were actually made from grass.  I was deciding between a deodorant that was made out of hemp and another made from lavender.  I went with Tom’s lavender deodorant.  Just in time, because it was a hot day and I was starting to sweat.

Note to self – never buy organic deodorant again!  These things do not work.  I might as well have taken lavender flowers and mixed it with hot water. I’m not particularly prone to sweating, but by the end of the day, my shirt was damp as a wash cloth.  All I wanted to do was go home and shower, because I didn’t want to run into anyone I know, and have them associate me with the putrid smell of body odor and lavender perfume.  Maybe I grabbed the wrong brand. Perhaps I had an overly active day.  These things could be true, but I doubt it.  Using organic deodorant is like washing your floor with perfume.  Sure it might smell ok for a few minutes, and it might look clean, but there are still hundreds of nasty bacteria there.  There is a fine line between trying helpful organic alternatives and straight up hocus pocus.   Part of what makes the deodorant work are the chemicals that make it not organic!  In the same way palm reading doesn’t tell me anything about my future, Organic deodorant doesn’t get rid of my body odor.  This is not an assault on all organic, holistic, or alternative medicines.  I actually try to meditate daily, take vitamin supplements, and exercise.  But, I’m also practical  Show me someone who uses organic deodorant without smelling and I’ll show show you someone who hides old spice under their bed.

#10 – Waiters that Interrupt Conversation

December 26, 2008


This year, I celebrated Christmas a day early because the rest of my family was going out of town.  So on Christmas I killed some time and got brunch with a friend of mine.  We went to Dupars, an old Los Angeles diner.  The place was packed with Jewish families and young orphans like myself.  I’ve always wondered what people who don’t celebrate Christmas do when all the stores are closed.  Apparently this is it, and its fantastic.  It was lively, wholesome, and we got seated right away.  I ordered some fresh squeezed orange juice, wheat toast, and a vegetable omelet.  I hadn’t seen my friend in a long time, so we started to catch up.  I had just eaten a little omelet sandwich I had constructed out of my toast and eggs.  The waitress ruined this moment by asking “is everything ok?”.   My mouth was too full to really speak, so I just looked to my left, put on a fake smile and grunted like it was the best food I’ve ever had.  She then filled my water without asking (a pet peeve of mine).  Deep down I was irritated.  What am I going to say, “the food f%^ing sucks and i didn’t want more water!”? Part of  me just wanted to look down and pretend I was deaf.  Instead, I did nothing.

Having waiters interrupt your conversation is the worst.  It puts me in a position where I have to act as if the waiter is doing a fantastic job and also interrupts an engaging moment.  This is not an isolated occurrence.  Retail workers do the same thing when they ask “if you need any help.”  If I needed any help , I would have made the implicit eye contact to suggest that I wanted to say something.  What bothers me is not that they are trying to help, but that its not genuine.   They know I don’t need anything.  In fact, I think they are even irritated when I ask for something.   A good waiter/waitress would wait until I looked as if I needed help or wasn’t eating/talking before checking up.  I suspect the only reason they ask is just so that I think about it when I’m calculating how much to tip.

Bottom line: Don’t talk to me when I’m eating unless I know you or asked you a question.


#9 – Something I Like – Clothes Outside of the Dryer

December 22, 2008

I am feeling in the holiday spirit, so I have decided to use today to give up my Grinch-like ways and talk about one of my greatest pleasures – putting on clothes just out of the dryer.  This has to be right up there with the last bite of an ice cream cone and the milk at the bottom of a cereal bowl.  Growing up my mom would sometimes throw my clothes in the dryer before school.  I tried to time my waking up with the completion of the dry cycle.  To prevent my feet from spending any more time than was absolutely necessary touching the cold hard wood floors, the second my mom said the dryer was done, I would jump out of bed and run to the dryer to put on the clothes.  It was a fantastic sensation – warm, tingly, and  relaxing all at once.  Its what I imagine heroin must feel like. 

Someone should invent a contraption that heats my clothes in a fraction of the time.  It could be a sort of microwave for clothes.  However, until then, if your running low on time, you can try warming your socks by wrapping the elastic around the funnel of a hair dryer.  This gives a very similar sensation.