Rest Stop Bathrooms and the Curse of the Low Power Hand Dryer

dreamstime_xs_48754288-public-bathroomI’ve been on several road trips in the last year including an 18 hour trip to Florida. I enjoy road trips. I listen to audiobooks during the drive, and the view on scenic roads can be relaxing.

One side effect of a long drive is occasionally, you feel the call of nature. Suddenly, those information signs along the road become essential to read. You begin the search for a rest stop, truck stop or some other place to grab a snack and use the facilities. This is a familiar ritual on a road trip.

My problem is this. I’ve noticed more, and more of the public bathrooms don’t have paper towels. All you get are hand dryers. Most of the time, it’s a low power hand dryer. I can honestly say that low power hand dryer is good for nothing but building frustration.

Now I get it. Paper towels add to landfills. Plus, businesses can save money by not supplying them. My complaint is this. You can’t blow your nose or wipe something off your shirt with a hand dryer. There are times when you need a paper towel in a bathroom.

These low power hand dryers are not working for me. I decided I need a solution for my road trips. Kleenex hand towels to the rescue! I buy a box at the start of the trip. I grab a couple of towels before getting out of the car and put them in a pocket. If the bathroom is out of paper or has a hand dryer, I’m covered. I just reach into my pocket.

I know some of you will think this is no big deal or even silly. My view, it’s a less stressful road trip!

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Road Trip Time But Will Your Car Make it? When Should You Sell Your Old Car?

dreamstime_xs_24238838-car-balanceI spend a lot of time in my car on road trips. As a result, I put a lot of miles on my car. With all those miles, when should I sell my car and upgrade to a newer one? After all, I don’t want my car to die on me when I’m 300 miles away … on a road trip.

The best solution to this predicament is the Maintenance Cost vs. Car Value Rule. Here’s how it works. At the end of the year (or on an anniversary you choose), add up all the maintenance costs you spent on the car for the past year. This would include any deductibles for warranty work. If the total amount spent on maintenance in one year is greater than half the value of the car, sell the car.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you did the following things to your car last year; oil changes, fluid changes, a new battery and new tires. You also paid a $100 deductible to replace a broken windshield wiper motor. (The warranty paid for the rest.) Add it all up and the total cost for last year was $1,100. You then go to Kelly Blue Book (or some other car value site), and you find out your car is worth $2,000. The $1,100 spent on maintenance is more than half your car’s value. Time to sell. The car is costing too much for its value.

Share if you know another rule for selling a car.

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Road Trips: Should You Drive Your Car or Rent a Car?

dreamstime_xs_29500523 - Car ValueA lot of road trips can kill the value of your car. I had a conversation with a friend who was not a happy camper! He was trying to sell his car and was shocked to learn the vehicle lost $12,000 in value in 2 years. Why … a lot of road trips. He has a short commute to work, but he hits the road at least once a month for weekend stays.

He purchased a used car two years ago with 11,000 miles on it. He paid a little over $18,000 for the car. Today, the car had 91,000 miles and was appraised at $6,000. Wow! That’s a lot of value lost in 2 years. Should he have rented cars for all those road trips?

Drive my car or rent a carThe question you have to ask yourself is, do you care about the value of your car? What type of car owner are you? Are you the type to buy a car and drive it until it dies? If you are, you probably don’t care about car value. One day you’re mechanic tells you it’s time to replace the old set of wheels. You call some nonprofit to tow it away and buy the next car. You don’t need the value on the old car to help purchase a replacement car. If this is you, go road trip crazy and drive your own vehicle.

If you plan to trade-in your old car, your car’s value is essential. Here’s what you need to think about. How many miles do you drive per year? The average American drives 12 – 15 thousand miles per year. Let’s use 15,000 (or 15K) as a nice round number. Miles driven is not the only factor in determining the value of a car, but it’s an important one. At the end of each year you own your vehicle, how many miles did you drive? If you added less the 15K, GREAT. You slowed the rate of decline in value. If you added more than 15K … OUCH! It’s like tying a brick to your car’s value. Bottom line … if your road trips will take you over that 15k mark in any one year; fly, take the train or RENT A CAR. Don’t make your vehicle’s value a victim of your travel plans!

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Hotel Stay: Why You Should Tip The Housekeeping Each Night

I found an article on the Groupon website that caught my eye. It’s called “Why You Should Tip Housekeeping Every Night and Other Hotel Tipping Etiquette” by Jorie Larsen. In the article, Jorie Larsen spoke with manners expert Lizzie Post. Read the article to see the complete info-graphic on hotel tipping.

My favorite part was tipping the housekeeper. Lizzie’s advice goes as follows:

Should you tip [the housekeeper]?: Yes.
How much?: It depends on the number of people staying in your room, although $2 per night is fairly standard. Larger families, or those staying in a large suite, should tip more, up to $5 per night. When deciding how much to leave, Post says to “consider the amount of work housekeeping has to do.”
Should I tip every night or once at the end?: “Tipping nightly ensures the tips go to the people who actually clean your room,” Post says.
Where should I put the tip?: On your pillow or nightstand. Better yet, place it in an envelope clearly labeled “Housekeeping,” then leave it on your nightstand.
What if I’m staying at a B&B or small inn?: It’s up to your discretion, but feel free to ask the inn’s staff what the tipping standards are. Generally speaking, you should leave a tip if there is hired help to clean the rooms.

dreamstime_s_48685237-hotel-housekeeperI often get into discussions with friends who don’t tip housekeeping at all or who only tip at the end of their stay. I hope this ends the debate for my friends that don’t tip. Follow the wisdom of Lizzie Post and start tipping!

For my friends who tip at the end of the stay … STOP IT! There are times when a different person cleans your room each day. If you tip all at the end of your stay, you are over tipping the last housekeeper and not tipping the others at all. When I stay at a hotel, I leave a $2 or $3 tip on the desk with a note that says “tip for housekeeper.” I want it to be clear to the housekeeper that it is a tip for him or her.

How do you handle tipping the housekeeper?

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How is Your Wheel of Life?

wheel-life-thinking-chartA seminar I attended introduced me to the concept of a “Wheel of Life.” I LOVED IT!

What is the “Wheel of Life“? In short, it’s life balance. It’s all the areas of your life that contribute to your happiness and well-being. The theory is simple. You have contentment when these areas are in balance or going well. You have sleepless nights, headaches and misery when the wheel is out of balance.

So what makes up the wheel? There are several systems out there. Zig Ziglar’s wheel has the following parts:

  1. Career
  2. Financial
  3. Spiritual
  4. Physical
  5. Intellectual
  6. Family

I found another wheel by Brendon Baker. From the website, “The Start of Happiness,” he has these parts on his wheel:

  1. Physical Environment
  2. Business / Career
  3. Finances
  4. Health
  5. Family and Friends
  6. Romance
  7. Personal Growth
  8. Fun and Recreation

I’ll show one more example. An example that’s a little different. On the website, “Mind Tools,“ the wheel has this set of parts:

  1. Partner
  2. Mother/Father
  3. Manager
  4. Colleague
  5. Team Member
  6. Sports Player
  7. Community Leader
  8. Friend
  9. Career/Work
  10. Health

As I said, there are a lot of systems out there and a lot of wheels. I love the concept of life balance and the constant battle to keep it in balance. I’m adding this concept to my blog. Most people fail at the balance thing. I figure the more information I have, the better my chances at contentment. Why not share as I do the research?

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The Traits of a Real Man

dreamstime-personal-trainer-at-the-gymI listened to an old episode of The DoubleX Gabfest Podcast (now called “The Waves”, 09/18/2014). One of the topics was a discussion on an article in BuzzFeed. The article was “28 Ways to Spot a Real Man.” This got me thinking … What are the standards for a ‘real man’?

Urban Dictionary has several definitions for the phase a real man. The closest I would agree with is, “A Real Man The thing that makes a man a man, is courage. Not just the courage to fight, but the courage to fight for what is right. A real man has the strength to admit to, who and what he is. A real man doesn’t run from his feelings. A real man isn’t afraid to love.

 

I did a simple Google search for “real man” and found a bunch of articles on the subject:

  1. Traits of A Real Man (AskMen.com)
  2. The 20 Defining Traits Of The Real Modern Man (Elite Daily)
  3. 10 Ways to Know You’re Dating a Real Man (Huffington Post)
  4. 4 Qualities That Make A Real Man (MindBodyGreen.com)
  5. 20 Characteristics of a Real Man (Chadhowsefitness.com)

My favorites traits from all the articles include:

  • “He knows how to show his son that it’s OK to be different.” (28 Ways to Spot a Real Man)
  • “A guy who knows his way around the kitchen. (28 Ways to Spot a Real Man) – I would add … “or can afford an excellent restaurant.”
  • “A real man knows that doing good is its own reward.” (28 Ways to Spot a Real Man)
  • “And isn’t afraid to admit when he is wrong.” (28 Ways to Spot a Real Man)
  • “A real man knows how to be a good winner…but an even better runner-up.” (28 Ways to Spot a Real Man)
  • “A real man knows how important it is to make a girl feel like a princess.” (28 Ways to Spot a Real Man)
  • “A real man is a good father…” (28 Ways to Spot a Real Man) – This goes with the saying, “Anyone Can Be A Father But It Takes A Real Man To Be A Dad.”
  • “A real man looks out for others…” (28 Ways to Spot a Real Man)
  • “…and always keeps his word.” (28 Ways to Spot a Real Man) – Another way to put it … “A Real Man’s Word Is His Bond” (Traits of A Real Man)
  • “A Real Man Can Defend Himself” (Traits of A Real Man) – Another way to put it … “A man doesn’t need to be able to fight or to protect himself and his family physically. But it helps. He does however need to be willing to do whatever it takes to keep his family safe and happy.” (20 Characteristics of a Real Man)
  • “A Real Man Keeps His House In Order” (Traits of A Real Man)
  • “A Real Man Takes Care Of His Appearance” (Traits of A Real Man)
  • “A Real Man Doesn’t Gossip” (Traits of A Real Man) – Another way to put it … “When a man points a finger at someone else, he should remember that four of his fingers are pointing at himself.” ~ Louis Nizer (20 Characteristics of a Real Man)
  • “Real men are passionate about something — and it’s not just weed or their new Nikes.” (The 20 Defining Traits Of The Real Modern Man) – Another way to put it … “Men have a cause.” (4 Qualities That Make A Real Man)
  • “Real men don’t need to make fun of other guys to boost their own self-confidence, but they can definitely make fun of themselves.” (The 20 Defining Traits Of The Real Modern Man)
  • “Real men have goals; they might seem lofty or completely absurd, but they’re working toward something, and that’s what matters.” (The 20 Defining Traits Of The Real Modern Man)
  • Men take action. (The 20 Defining Traits Of The Real Modern Man)
  • A man treats women with respect. If you don’t respect women, you’re not a man. Period. (20 Characteristics of a Real Man)
  • A man can laugh at himself. (20 Characteristics of a Real Man)
  • A man has fears, but he isn’t ruled by them. (20 Characteristics of a Real Man)
  • A man learns from his mistakes. Although he might take a few cracks at it. (20 Characteristics of a Real Man)

Well, that’s my list from the articles above. What would you add or remove?

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It’s Not the Kite, It’s the Air

I love the song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams! I can’t help dancing every time I hear it! I like it so much, I bought the song for my iPod and the video for my iPad. Once, the song came over the intercom while I was eating dinner with three friends in a restaurant. All four of us started dancing in our chairs. The song just makes you, well … happy.

I watched an interview with Pharrell Williams on CBS Sunday Morning. During the interview, Pharrell said something I’ve been thinking about a lot. He was asked, “Are you afraid if you give yourself too much credit, it would all go away?”

Pharrell’s answer, “For sure. You see people spin out of control like that all the time. I mean, those are the most tragic stories, the most gifted people who start to believe it’s really all them. It’s not all you. It can’t be all you. Just like you need air to fly a kite, it’s not the kite. It’s the air.”

What a perfect?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? metaphor … “It’s not the kite, it’s the air.” Ego check. Happiness and success are rarely achieved alone. Each is produced with the help, support, and patience of the people around you. You should thank them for it from time to time.

I’m posting this the day after the Thanksgiving holiday in the US. A good time for anyone to look at their life and assess. As I look at my life. Let me tell my wife, family, and friends … THANK YOU!!! … for your help, support and bountiful patience! If I’m a kite … they’re the air. Thank you to my readers as well. If this blog is a kite, you’re the air!

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Are You Guilty of “Wishful” Recycling?

green trash bin on green grass field
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

I live in Fairfax County, Virginia (USA). I follow the county government on Twitter. The county recently did a tweet with a creative term for a vexing program … “wishful recycling.” To quote the tweet, “About 30% of material that passes through local recycling sorting facilities is not recyclable — it’s waste placed in the wrong container or acceptable recyclables contaminated by dirty items. Learn how to stop ‘wishful’ recycling: http://bit.ly/2z8L4bo

I must admit. I’ve seen some interesting stuff in the recycling dumpster at my apartment complex. Using “Wishful recycling” as a non-offensive way to describe the problem I hope gets people to ask the question … “Am I wishful recycling?” Recycling facility workers everywhere will thank you if it does.

Do you know what the five largest “wishful recycling” items are:

  1. Plastic bags
  2. Shredded paper
  3. Tanglers (hoses/hangers/cords)
  4. Styrofoam containers
  5. Dirty diapers

I did some research for this post. Wishful recycling causes real issues at recycling centers. Plastic bags and shredded paper does gum up the equipment. Dirty diapers and food containers (with food still in them) contaminate the material that is recyclable. It drives the workers nuts and reduces the income the local jurisdiction can get for recycled material.

Don’t be a wishful recycler! Spend a few minutes learning what is and IS NOT recyclable? Here are a few articles:

  1. Are You A Wishful Recycler?
  2. Adjusting to New Recycling Realities; 5 Ways You Can Help Stop “Wishful Recycling”
  3. A Simple List of What Can and Cannot Be Recycled
  4. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (Portal from United States Environmental Protection Agency)

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Restaurants and the Bathroom Test

blur shot of a person in a restaurant
Photo by Adrianna Calvo on Pexels.com

I eat in restaurants often. I like trying new restaurants, especially when brunch is served. I never worried about sanitation in the kitchen or if my server washed their hands. I just enjoyed the food.

TV shows change all that. Try watching shows like Restaurant: Impossible on the Food Network,  Hotel Impossible on the Travel Channel or Bar Rescue on Paramount Network. I was shocked at all the unsanitary hotels, bars and restaurants out there. I always knew there are unsanitary places but seeing it on TV brings it to life. How can you tell when you walk into one of these places?

I got up to use the bathroom on one of my restaurant visits. It was awful. The floors were dirty, the paper-towels had run out, and the soap was empty. It hit me, if I can’t wash my hands, my server can’t wash their hands either. Then I realized, if a restaurant doesn’t take the time to clean and re-stock the bathroom, why would I think they clean the kitchen? If I see roaches or other critters in the bathroom (and I have), I bet there are critters in the kitchen as well. I decided a dirty bathroom is a good sign I should get out of there BEFORE I eat a meal.

Why worry about the restaurant’s bathroom? Bathrooms are used by customers. Some restaurant managers don’t care or are too busy to make sure the bathroom is clean and stocked. If a place customers see is a low priority for cleanliness, what’s the priority for places NOT SEEN by customers. It’s a red flag at least!

My sister-in-law works in the restaurant industry. She has another test. Look up at the air vents in the dining room. If they’re dirty, so is the kitchen. Do you have a test? If so, please share …

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Start the Next Chapter of Your Life (Quote)

599a4e251b6623aa46e7409004b38f18You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one.” – Unknown

It’s a great quote because it explains the concept in simple terms … reading and chapters. It’s easy to translate to what I think is its true meaning … thinking forward or thinking backward.

Are you a backward thinker or a forward thinker? Re-reading the last chapter is focusing on the past and the mistakes you’ve made. Stop that! You can stay stuck in the past or move on. You can’t change the past, so the choice is clear … or it should be. Be a forward thinker. What are your GOALS, not your MISTAKES? Where do you want to be in the future? How do you get there? Make a plan. Focus on that.  Start the next chapter.

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