Category Archives: General Thoughts

Outsmarting the Smart Fridge

Scotch tape and creativity...

Our fancy new “Space Fridge” has some amazing features. It will auto-fill a glass, based on sensor readings so it knows how much water to add. It has a fancy LCD touchscreen that allows you to configure its features. Heck, it even warns you if you leave the door ajar by playing an annoying tune until you shut it.

It also requires a $50 water filter with a special RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification) tag that has the sole purpose of forcing you to replace the filter after 6 months. It’s crazy. You can buy a pack of 2 filters that will fit the fridge for $16, but without the RFID tag, they won’t work, and your fridge will refuse to dispense water. Mind you, the ONLY difference is the RFID tag, the cheap filter itself is perfectly fine.

That really annoyed me, and so I pondered what to do. For the past year, I’ve left the “expired” filter in the fridge and constantly press “override” to get another perfectly-filtered fill from the expired $50 filter. That is extremely frustrating, and occasionally the fridge absolutely refuses to dispense water unless you replace the filter. I didn’t want to put the “bypass” device in, because I really dislike drinking chlorinated water. But that made me think… Why does the bypass device work?

See, the GE fridge includes a plastic non-filter thing that screws into the filter slot, and allows the fridge to dispense unfiltered water and ice. But why does that work, yet the cheap non-RFID filters don’t? It turns out there’s a tiny little RFID tag hidden under a sticker on the bypass device, which puts the fridge into “unfiltered” mode. The only difference, apart from being unfiltered, is the tiny little graphic on the screen shaming you into buying another $50 filter.

You probably see where I’m going with this. I tore the plastic bypass device apart, took out the RFID tag, and taped it to the inside of the fridge where the sensor is. (That’s what the red arrow is pointing to at the top) Now I can use the cheap filters, and replace them when they stop working well. How do I know they need to be replaced without the RFID system telling me? Well, because the water starts flowing more slowly. Then I pop out one $8 filter, and put in a new one. The fridge still thinks it’s in bypass mode, and I no longer want to smash it with a hammer.

Oh, and that “Unfiltered Water” reminder? It just makes me smile every time I see it. Because it turns out I’m smarter than our smart fridge after all. ๐Ÿ™‚

What’s With the Pink Hat?

Dinosaur shirts ALWAYS go well with pink hats...

I wear pink hats. Pretty much exclusively. It wasn’t always that way, in fact, my first pink hat was a Mother’s Day ball cap from the Tiger’s “pink out” weekend last year. I wore the hat, and it disturbed some people.

Like, it really disturbed some people. Especially older men. That bothered me, because if I want to wear a pink hat, I should be able to wear a pink hat. So it became part of my persona. When I first started wearing pink hats, it was just because my pink Detroit Tigers hat was another hat in my collection. But now when when people ask me why I wear pink hats, my answer is a bit longer…

  • I wear pink hats because I want gender-based stereotypes to die.
  • I wear pink hats because there aren’t enough women in science, math, technology, and trades. I want to show them it’s OK to buck tradition.
  • I wear pink hats because my eldest daughter is a carpenter, and I want that to be normal, not, “super unique.”
  • I wear pink hats because I think pink hats are nifty.
  • I wear pink hats because they make people uncomfortable, in a good way.
  • I wear pink hats (and crazy shirts) so people notice a grown man wearing pink, and think about what that does or doesn’t mean.
  • I wear pink hats because I want to be brave, and show my kids that bravery comes in many forms.
  • I wear pink hats because I’m going bald. (That’s not specific to the pinkness of the hat, but why I wear hats in general, lol)

I’ve raised 3 wonderful daughters, the youngest of which will be 18 in a couple weeks. Being a father of daughters in our current society is frustrating. I don’t want my girls to have a skewed view of what it means to be masculine and feminine. I want them to be confident. I want them to follow traditional gender roles if they want to, and I want them to go directly against the grain if they don’t.

I want my kids to know that I can wear pink and bake cupcakes, and still be manly. And they can build houses and work on cars and still be girly. I want it to be OK for anyone to wear a pink hat, so I do, and so that’s why I’m often referred to as, “The Pink Hat Guy.”

I’m OK with that. ๐Ÿ™‚

Top 7 Reasons to Never Buy a Bidet

We’ve had a bidet in our master bathroom for about a year, and so I feel pretty confident that I can give you this list to start your year on the right foot. So here are the top 7 reasons never to buy a bidet:

  1. International travel will lose its mystery. You know that scene in Crocodile Dundee where he can’t figure out the bidet in his hotel room? You’ll miss out on that comedy genius when traveling abroad. Bidets are the norm in many other countries, so your vacation will be far less exotic.
  2. Fellow Americans will never look the same. You’ll know most everyone you see in the grocery store has a crusty bottom wiped by dry toilet paper. Honestly, if we get a drop of syrup on our fingers, we wash them with soap and water. But a smear of poop? Yeah, dry toilet paper rubbed on it is plenty. Eiw.
  3. Your Butthole Will Get Wimpy. Seriously, my rear end is like a pampered purse-poodle. It can’t handle regular bathrooms anymore. If I’m stuck using a bathroom other than my own for number 2’s, I rub that dry paper on my bottom, hoping for a clean feeling. The feeling never comes, but my bum sure gets raw.
  4. One won’t be enough. What if your spouse is doing their hair in the morning? Sure, the spare bathroom used to be a great backup for your morning constitutional, but now? You better leave time for a shower afterward, because without a second bidet, that backup bathroom is just a prequel for an emergency shower. Because starting your day with a crusty bottom? Yeah, no.
  5. Toilet paper bargains will be meaningless. When you only need toilet paper to dry your pampered bottom, you’ll use far, far less of it. When your favorite TP goes on sale, you’ll still have plenty in the cupboard. Opportunity lost.
  6. Emergency preparedness goes down the drain. Do you have an emergency contact for when you inevitably run out of toilet paper? Have you waddled through the house with your pants at your ankles to the second bathroom? Have you ever just wiped with your underwear and thrown them away afterward? Now the worst that happens is an extended session of Candy Crush while you wait for your sparkling bottom to air dry. Bidets make us lazy!
  7. Your friend’s dog won’t bury his nose in your crotch anymore. I mean, why would Rufus try to smell your tender bits? There’s nothing down there but a faint whiff of fabric softener from your surprisingly fresh underwear. For people who love to embarrass their friends with uncomfortable squirming from curious puppy snouts, it’s a real letdown.

So do yourself a favor, and avoid buying a bidet at all costs. It will ruin your life. And with options like heated seats, warm water spray, and a gentle heated dryer, the fancy models will make waking up in the morning a bit less miserable. And being happy early in the morning? That’s just un-American!

Phobias and Tiny Potties

I'm trying not to think about the sticky tray...I think it’s still “Mental Health Awareness Month.” Or whatever it’s called. This post is the 38,000ft edition of, “Crazy Things About Shawn.”

I’m currently somewhere over Iowa, and just had my traditional ginger ale and Delta cookie treat. (Truly, they taste amazing together, but only when you’re 7 miles up in the air)

As I finished my delicious cookie treat, I grasped the tray to help scooch up in my seat, and discovered that the back edge of my tray was sticky. Thus, my hand was sticky. We might not know each other very well, but you should know that apart from bees, nothing freaks me out more than being sticky. And since the plane has been going through turbulence, the seat belt light has been on for most of the flight.

I had to sit in my seat with a sticky hand.

Just to put a little clarity in the conversation, I’d much rather jump OUT of the plane (with a parachute, I’m not suicidal) than to sit in the plane with a sticky hand.ย Finally, after about 63 hours of waiting (it’s a 4 hour flight, my chronological senses might be skewed) the seat belt light finally shut off. So, for what I think is the first time in my life, I used the bathroom on a plane. I did try to actually “go” while I was there, because I just had all that ginger ale, and I was already in the bathroom. But I didn’t attempt to use the tiny facilities until AFTER I washed my hands with the most inconvenient (but so blessedly wonderful) sink. And yes, I washed my hands again afterward too, because my mother trained me right. ๐Ÿ™‚

So, I said all that to say: Airplane bathrooms are TINY! And I must confess, I’m concerned for the ladies, because as a guy, peeing into a tiny metal bowl while the plane jostles around the sky (the seat belt light went back on whilst I was in the bathroom) is challenging. While I personally peed like an olympic diver (no splash), I suspect that entire little poop closet is FULL of tinkle spray. It’s actually kind of gross. I’d really hate to have to sit on that tiny toilet.

Also, as an aside to my already derailed post (proof of mental illness?), I have no idea how folks do the hanky panky in those things. Maybe that’s just in the movies, or maybe the first class bathrooms have couches or something.

But the sink. The sink works. THANK GOD!