Kevin Hellriegel's Blog of Worthless Advice

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Monthly Archives: March 2013

March: The Month of Killing my Children’s Memories

Bears not included

Bears not included

We had a rare weekend of sunshine here in the Seattle area and it was wonderful.  These days are few and far between so when they do appear, we take advantage of them.  We had a little warmth of 50 degrees plus the sunshine for the past two days.  It was today that I killed my children’s memories.

Actually, I started to destroy their memories two weekends ago when I took down the swing set in the backyard.  This weekend I destroyed more childhood memories by tearing down the play tower.

While I may be removing the play structures from our backyard; we aren’t throwing them away in the landfill. I moved the swing set to my cousin’s house for her daughter to enjoy and play on.  I always underestimate how long a project will take to complete.  I always think that something will take 15 minutes but then it turns out to be 2 hours later and I’m only half complete.  The same thing happened with the moving of the swing set.

The floor of the playhouse on the swing set was rotten out so I put in a new floor.  And then the climbing ramp, needed to be rebuilt so I did that.  Then I thought I had better make a new railing because we had taken out the slide and there was a big hole.  A child could fall through that.  While my cousin’s daughter isn’t a moron and I know she wouldn’t fall out of the playhouse, I don’t know if her friends are that smart.  Last thing my cousin needs is some kid getting hurt on the swing set and complaining that they dislocated their shoulder.  Jeez, like I’m responsible for your kid being stupid.

I also figured my cousin could find her own broken glass and rusty nails to throw underneath the play set.  Give it that urban playground feel to it.  I can’t do everything for her kid.  What kind of example is that?  Bad enough I gave her a swing set when we all know she should be sending her daughter out to the local park.

Now our swing set has moved onto another backyard and I have a huge empty spot in my backyard to fill.  Maybe a nice fire pit would be a welcome addition to the backyard.  Any thoughts?  Suggestions?

The picture I found from this website: http://www.tcnj.edu/~hofmann/playground/Playground.htm

Sorry, in my neck of the woods (pun intended), we don’t have black bears.

Overreacting to Problems: How to Make Mountains out of Mole Hills.

dishwasher2I love to overreact and make small incidents into extremely big deals.  Today, I did just that to my children.  My kids are now 10 and 14 years old and they love to bicker.  They argue about who’s turn it is to do that or who’s turn it is to do this.  We have a loose chore schedule (because we believe in keeping our kids guessing at all times) of emptying out the dishwasher when the dishes are clean.

This morning, I announced that this afternoon, when they got home the dishes would be clean.  At this point, you would think that my kids would argue over who was going to empty it out.  To my surprise, my daughter said it was her turn.  Good job daughter!  Step up to the plate and do the job.  Where she gets this sense of “doing the right” thing I’ll never know.

However, my 14 year old son had to say “Yup” right after she said it was her turn.  She was offended by this comment and told me he didn’t need to add it in after she said she was going to do the job.

This is when I lost it.

To my wife’s and my defense, we harp on the “getting along with your siblings” thing in our house.  For the most part, they are good kids except for stupid nonsense like this.  So, I went overboard and took away all electronics for the day.  No TV in the morning, no Xbox, no Kindle, no iPods, etc. and it doesn’t stop in the morning.  It is all day.  Once they get home after school, the “no electronics policy” is still in effect.

In reality, I never do this kind of stuff.  Frankly, I like the electronic devices because it keeps me from having to socialize with them and they can watch cute cat jumping videos on YouTube!  Isn’t that what the internet was invented for?  Cat videos and reality car chases?

And think of all the great education they’ll miss out from watching “Family Guy” ,“The Simpsons”, “Wizards of Waverly Place”, and countless others.

I hope they enjoy reading a book, drawing a photo, doing homework, staring at the wall, petting the cat, folding clothes, etc.  And the weather sucks here today.  They can’t go outside.  Well, they could but they would be miserable.  It is pouring down rain and windy so going outside doesn’t look appealing to anyone.  Even the cat and dog have no interest in stepping out the backdoor.  Hmm, might be a great day for some yard work chores.

My Worst Critic….

red penI have a reader that is one of my worst critics.  She finds fault in almost every blog post I produce.  She is offended about how I portray myself as a sarcastic person.  She is clearly upset with my style of writing, complaining that it isn’t true, that never happened, etc.  She also doesn’t like my parenting tips.

This critic is my ten year old daughter.

She doesn’t like my sarcastic tone.  I explain to her that my Blog is titled “Blog of Worthless Advice” and that it is meant to be funny, not serious.  She doesn’t like how I give the impression that I hate kids (I don’t really hate them).  She also wants me to brag more about being an Assistant Scoutmaster and a Girl Scout Leader (although some of her friends think that is odd until they hear about all the fun stuff we do).

Now, you can see why I avoid swearing on my blog (oh, and I can curse like a sailor if I wanted to).  I know that she will soon be logging on, reading my blog, and coming over to critique my last posting.

Jeez, it certainly is hard being a blogger.  Putting yourself, your thoughts, your writing style out there for the world to see (if they can find you).  It is one thing to have a nice imaginary stalker like Cyndi out there but it quite another to have a ten year old critic giving your last post a big thumbs down.  It is a good thing I get to review and approve the comments….

Thanks for reading!  Let me know if you need someone to tear down your blog and make you feel bad.  I’ll send my daughter over with her red pen of death.

The red pen photo is from the Website  http://www.fendrihan.com.  I don’t get a commission but it is one sweet looking pen if you want to check it out!

Sleeping Pills: Not Just For Overworked Mommies Anymore!

I was reading the Miami Herald today and they had an article about a teacher named Debbie Gratz at Northern California preschool that is accused of doping her students.  She was just released from jail after being charged with Child Endangerment.  According to court records a colleague reported seeing her drop an unknown substance into the children’s juice cups.

I’m sure she is just an overworked employee that just needed her kids to have a little down time.  Those toddlers are always on the go and it takes a lot of energy to keep up with them.  Why should you do your job that you are being paid to do?  Isn’t watching the children sleep the same thing as teaching them?

Sure everyone needs a break once in a while.  And to her defense, it was only an Over-The-Counter (OTC) sleeping medication called “Sominex”.  Just because that stuff knocks my butt to sleep and I weigh 220 lbs, I’m sure a little 20-40 lb toddler will do fine with it.

That classroom must be a sleeping paradise during afternoon nap time.  I bet all the teachers were envious of her amazing ability to keep the children asleep for 6 hours straight.

I can hear her fellow teachers now….

‘I don’t know you do it, Debbie, but you are amazing with those children.  They sleep so quietly and never seem to wake up for anything: Lunch time, fire drills, recess, afternoon snack.  You are truly a miracle worker.”

Perhaps it might be a good idea for Debbie to step away from the preschool classroom and explore other career paths.  May I suggest dealing with the homeless?  They are usually self medicated saving you the trouble of slipping them a sleeping pill.  Or if she really wants a challenge she could buy beer and liquor for underaged drinkers outside of the local grocery stores.  Or maybe take up a chemistry career and start a meth lab out in the pine forest behind her house.  Now that is some great career

Of course, everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

Where NOT to send your Daughter for Spring Break!

You know what I love about the internet?  I love those Top Ten (or whatever) Lists and discovering where I’m not going to let my daughter go on Spring Break.  Sure, my little girl is only ten years old but you have to plan ahead if you want to be a good parent.  The last thing you want is your daughter having “daddy issues”, ending up on the stripper pole in some strip club in Las Vegas with her boyfriend T-Dog.  Don’t worry, she is “working her way through school” (mostly likely after you cut off the college tuition after she pulled straight Cs).

This is one of the key reasons why parents should be involved in their child’s life!  Strong role models whether they are male or female need to set the example for kids to learn from.

Regardless, I’m not saying that you should keep your daughter at home like I plan to do.  For one thing, I’m a much better parent than you can ever hope to be and two: you should send your daughter to these places so my son has someone to meet while he is on Spring Break.  I’m kidding of course…..

I present to you the “Trashiest Spring Break Vacation Destinations” according to this link from coedmagazine.com.  As you know, I think research is quite overrated.  My opinion is really the only thing that matters and since I have huge amounts of common sense, research is really a waste of my time.  Besides as an informed reader, you should be doing your own research.  You can’t be a sheep following me all the time (because sheep creep me out).

“Trashiest Spring Break Vacation Destinations”

  1. Las Vegas, NV
  2. South Padre Island, TX
  3. Daytona Beach, FL
  4. Myrtle Beach, SC
  5. Orlando, FL
  6. Lake Havasu, AZ
  7. Miami, FL
  8. Panama City, FL
  9. Key West, FL
  10. Fort Meyers, FL
  11. Tampa, FL
  12. Virginia Beach, VA
  13. Scottsdale, AZ
  14. New Orleans, LA
  15. San Diego, CA

I’m glad to see Florida made seven of the top spots.  I’m even happier that my dear State of Washington didn’t make it.  In reality, who in their right mind would come here for rain and cold weather for spring break?  Washington isn’t a Spring Break destination in the least.  We don’t have nice sunny, warm weather until August and September.  During the summer and fall, Western Washington is a beautiful place to visit.  You can see Mt. Rainier, you can take a trip to the top of the Space Needle and you can enjoy a ferry boat ride across Puget Sound.

Today’s lesson is to keep track of your kids, enjoy the sunny weather while you can, and keep living the fun life you are meant to have!

3 Awesome Tips on How to Cut Down on your Next Vacation Expenses!

Vacation Tips: How to Cut down on your Vacation Expenses

Family Trips 2011 047Let’s face it folks, vacations are expensive unless you are single or rich.  If you happen to be stuck with a family like me, you know your vacation becomes a folly in the realms of expensive undertakings.  Depending on where you are going and how you are getting there, it costs a pretty penny to take a well deserved vacation.

For example, if you want to fly anywhere and have a family of four, your vacation costs went up four times.  However, lucky for you, I have some easy and practical tips to cut your travel expenses by 45%!

Airline Tickets:

Flying is expensive but is it necessary only for the right family members.  Do your kids really need to fly anywhere?  A simple way to cut down on airfare is to take the plane for you and your spouse and send your kids on a bus or train.  Think how much enjoyable the first few days of your vacation would be without your children fighting or whining,  Bus fare is way cheaper than an airline ticket and your kids would make new friends on the bus.  They could have meet “Ryan the Runaway Teen” and “Butch the Ex-Con” but don’t forget “Smelly Tony from the East Coast” (who doesn’t believe in showers, deodorant, or changing clothes).  You can’t make memories that last (or scar you) for a lifetime if you don’t experience a ride on a bus cross country.

Tip: If you are really worried about your kids being unattended, slip the driver a few extra bucks to look out for them during the trip.  It is still way cheaper than two airline tickets.

And don’t forget the kids will have to return on the bus as well.  Again, you have a few extra quiet days of rest and relaxation while they travel home.

Car Rental/Hotels:

Have you ever noticed that you don’t really spend that much time in your hotel room except to shower and sleep?  But you do spend a lot of time in your rental car, don’t you?  Well, combine the two!  Skip the expensive of a big fancy hotel (or a rat hole one for that matter) and spend the money on a kick ass ride!  You can get that big fancy van which will have plenty of space for sleeping bags, luggage, and the cooler full of drinks and food.  Need a shower…visit the local gas station or state park.  Need a place to park overnight?  Try the city hall parking lot or the local police station parking lot.  Both are safe and secure!

Food:

Eating out on vacation is a totally pain.  No one agrees on anything and the prices are way too high.  A simple breakfast or lunch can cost up to $70!  Darn we mention dinner?  Always eat out at the cheapest, least healthy place for EVERY meal.  After a three or four meals of fast food (or 7-11 food), you’ll notice that your family will quickly decrease their consumption of all food.  Remember less eating equals more savings!

Sometimes you get that one kid with a cast iron stomach that can eat anything.  To make sure they have enough food, have them clear other patron’s tables.  This accomplishes four things: 1) they get a sense of giving back to the community 2) they can eat the leftovers on the tray, 3) it teaches them how to survive when you kick their butts out of the house when they turn 18, and 4) gives them a glimpse of their future careers (this is called On The Job Training).

One final note, your vacation is about you relaxing and doing something fun.  You should really consider taking a vacation with people you really care about.  Think about taking your golfing buddies or a good friend who likes to party as much as you do.  Honestly, taking your spouse or girl/boyfriend is a toss up because of their bad attitude and how they pout when they don’t get their way.  And then there is the matter with your kids: they fight and bicker with each other all the time. Why do you want to bring crap that along on vacation when you hear enough of it at home?

In a future blog, we’ll discuss how to cut down on travel costs by making your bus into a mini Greyhound bus!

Thanks again for reading my blog and hitting the like button below!  And if you aren’t a follower, you should become one.  Most likely it will save your life during a zombie apocalypse.

Excuse Me, can I be retired now?

It’s a rainy Wednesday here in Kent, Washington and that is normal.  No sunshine for the likes of us to cheer us up.  Luckily, I am a pretty upbeat person despite my sarcastic nature and attitude.  In my day to day job as a seasoned school photographer, I deal with teachers, parents, and kids.  Most of the time, I have a great time with all three parties.  I can’t complain about my job besides the fact I actually have to leave my house.

Yesterday evening, one of our Girl Scout cookie clients (Quick Business Tip: always call your customer’s clients…it sounds like you care about them versus just viewing them as a paycheck.  An example: lawyers have clients and Wal-Mart has customers…we’ll get into lawyers in another post) came to pick up his cookies.  He asked how business was going and I told him it was good but I’d rather be retired.  He chuckled because it is oblivious I’m totally hilarious all the time (and it’s my story so I can say how funny I am).  Anyway, I also mentioned I can always use more business (who doesn’t want more business and more money?).

However, the sticking point to my business growth plan is that I’m currently too comfortable and lazy.  I like my level of business but would like more income without doing more marketing for more clients.  Some people love the thrill of the sales call and getting new accounts, I’m not one of them.  I’m an introvert in an extrovert’s career (school photography).

Now, I can be an extrovert when I need to be.  I can put on my big boy pants and get things done.

What I really want to do is stay home (in jeans and T-shirts; I’m not much of a track suit type of guy) and do nothing.  Well, I would do something.  I enjoy reading and blogging but those too activities aren’t making me too much money.  I like to be with my family and take vacations.

Basically, my dream job is to be a lottery winner (oh, you can’t win if you don’t play) thus I wouldn’t have to worry about working and money.  I want to be retired.  I’d sit around drinking a refreshing beverage and reading a book (or working on a novel) at my oak desk in my office.

Let’s be clear, it is an office and not a man cave.  A man cave would paint a picture of a comfortable leather couch, a flat screen TV, and some of my favorite sport teams’ logos all over the place, with a well stocked fridge to boot!  My office is a nice 12×16 (foot) building separate from my home.  It has internet, electricity, and heat.  If it had a bathroom I could be out here for hours.  It isn’t a man cave because I work here; I can’t relax like in a man cave but at least it is a quiet place for me to work in.

Needless to say, I’m still working and living life: Go Team Kevin!

 

Thanks for wasting another few minutes of your life to read my blog.  Make my life that more exciting by commenting below or pushing the “like” button below the post.

 

 

 

 

Hawaii Life TV Show

Yesterday, I managed to watch another episode of the TV show “Hawaii Life”.  This one involved a former pro surfer who was moving back to Oahu (Hawaii).  Oahu is called the “Gathering Place” island and roughly 85% of the state’s population lives on Oahu.  That is about 850,000 people.  As you can figure out, the State of Hawaii has about 1 million people.  This doesn’t include the tourist population that is coming and going throughout the year.

Now, you might now that my parents still live on the island of Kauai (know as the Garden Isle) and that I lived there for a while in my youth.  I attended Kapa’a High School on Kauai.

When you tell people you went to school in Hawaii, everyone thinks it must have been totally awesome.  Warm weather, the beach, the kick back lifestyle.

As a teenager, it wasn’t as fun as you can imagine.  I’m a haole boy (a Caucasian) so I got picked on.  Part of the problem I was a big kid, not fat mind you, just physically big.  I swam, mountain biked, and lifted weights (me Incredible Hulk, me strong…not really).  I was a pretty good target for local boys that didn’t like haoles.

Not all of my experience on Kauai was bad.  I did have some great friends and did a lot of fun activities.  I was just careful on where I went and who I was hanging out with.  If I had my big Hawaiian friends, I was able to go to some rougher areas.  If I was with my haole friends, we went to the more public beaches.

When I watch the “Hawaii Life” show, I enjoy it.  The show “Hawaii Life” is well done.  It is fun to see sunshine, surf, and the beaches here in the comfort of my Seattle home.  Hawaii is a wonderful place and after watching this type of show I get a bit homesick.  The weather looks wonderful, the beaches look inviting, and the family (buying the house) appears to be very happy.

SAM_1334kevin

To combat my feelings of moving back, I quickly watch a few episodes of “Dog the Bounty Hunter”.  Nothing like Dog chasing down some meth head or bail jumper to snap me back into reality and wake me up!  The reality being that Hawaii is like everywhere else.  Sure, you have great weather but you also have drugs and crime, good times and bad times.  Life is what you make of it.

In the meantime, I plan to whine about not living in Hawaii and not buying a house like the folks on “Hawaii Life”.  Boo hoo.  Poor me!  What am I going to do.  Perhaps I should start a donation site in which people (like yourself) could contribute to my family’s move back to Kauai.  What do you think about that?

Being a Loser is a Great Experience!

Remember that time when you lost to that other kid at school?  Of course you do.  Everyone is a loser at one point in their life and if you are lucky, you’ll be losing a lot more in your life.  You’ll probably be more of a loser after this article than you deserve to be.

What does winning teach you?  Nothing.  Winning teaches you to hold onto that one moment when you thought you were a winner.  Sure, you were a winner at that one moment in time.  That brief moment you were a champion.  You were the best.  And you hold onto that moment forever.

But what does it mean to lose?  Losing teaches you that your best just wasn’t good enough.  You didn’t make it to the top of the heap.  But you survived.  You got up, shook off the defeat, and move forward.

You aren’t reliving the glory years of “how your team won the championship that year” inside the local tavern over a warm beer.  You aren’t retelling the same worn out story every time you see your friends of how you caught that game winning touchdown pass.  You didn’t catch that pass.  You lost and you moved on.  You didn’t dwell on failure or defeat.  You learned from the losing experience and it made you a tougher person.

If anything, you should have learned why you lost and took steps to improve yourself and your ability to succeed next time.  Losing is a learning experience and motivates us to do better, to strive for improvement.

“It is better to play than do nothing”
 Confucius quote

So be a loser and move forward with your life!  But before you do that, make sure you “like” this post.  Don’t be a winner, be a loser and push the “like” button.   And be even more of a loser and subscribe to my blog so I can feel like a winner.  Thanks for reading!

Oops…more taxpayer’s money wasted because someone didn’t want to do their job!

If you haven’t heard, the Washington State Department of Transportation engineers didn’t test the 520 floating bridge pontoon design like they were supposed to do.  Oops.  But not to worry, good taxpayers of Washington State, the DOT set aside $200 million for mistakes and unforeseen problems that might arise.

Keep in mind, there aren’t a lot of floating bridges in the world and Washington State has three of them.  I think there are only like four or five in the whole world.  Do you think that maybe we should be paying attention to the design since we are setting the floating bridge standard?

I have to ask about this cost overrun: “Are you kidding me?”  I don’t mind having a $200 million emergency fund for unforeseen problems or conditions that might arise.  I can understand that if you were building a bridge and discover the ground wasn’t stable and you had extra costs to make sure it was safe, I can understand that.  However, when it was your job to test the design but you didn’t do it (didn’t do your job in other words), that isn’t “unforeseen” problem.  You screwed up.  You didn’t do your job.  But hey, that is OK.  Your bosses figured you’d mess up and planned a $200 million fund to pay for your laziness.

And you wonder why people are so upset when these “cost overruns” come up?  You wonder why people don’t like taxes or paying the bridge tolls?

I’m not a moron.  I know things cost money and that government isn’t free.  I just get a tad bit upset when someone doesn’t bother to do their assigned job.  I get more upset when there is a whole division of professional engineers (with fancy college degrees) that don’t do their job.  It  is their job to test the design prior to approving it because, well, it is their job!  They are professional engineers that are overseeing a new floating bridge and it is a new design.  Hmm, it is kind of important considering hundreds of thousands of cars and people will be travelling across this new bridge everyday entrusting their lives on this design.

Gee, should we test the design?  Should we do our job and test it?  Nah, let’s approve it.  Screw good engineering practices that we should believe in, screw the taxpayers and money they pay us!  Stamp the approval on those plans and let’s start building those untested pontoons for one of the few floating bridges in the world!

Thanks for reading!  But next time just push the “like” button without reading my blog…it is the easier thing to do!

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