Always the Perfect Gift … for Dad

Always the Perfect Gift … for Dad

So last Saturday, as I was doing some last minute shopping for the impromptu holiday for fathers I found myself walking into a department store with the purpose of getting my old man the crown jewel of gifts for fathers … toys for his grill. No it wasn’t original, and it wasn’t something he really needed, but it was a gift that I knew he would love. Why? Because he’s a dad, and even if he didn’t have a grill, he would have still loved the gift.

When it comes to giving gifts to fathers I have found two fail-safe gifts that when you come to an impasse at what to get them, or they have simply failed to give you any suggestions for something they would really like, want, need. The first of these two gifts are “toys for the grill.” These toys include (but are not limited to) tongs, spatulas, reusable kabobs, those little holdy things that you stick into the ends of corn on the cob to keep you from getting your fingers swimming in melted butter, an electric meat temperature gauge, seasonings, etc. The second gift … power tools.

The most amazing thing about these gifts is that they instill and very natural and effortless hording behavior in men. For some reason these two types of gifts never ever get old or redundant. I could get my dad a power drill for his birthday, Christmas, and Father’s Day and he would absolutely love it and make sure he used it at least once before making room for it in the “tools” section of the garage. The thing about giving grilling toys is that I know I’m going to be invited over again for a grilled dinner sometime soon, which for me is always nice for two key reasons. I love getting together with my family, we all get along really well. Also, my father is an amazing, and I mean amazing, cook. He has close to 50 years of experience and it shows every time I eat something he’s cooked.

Now if you are one of those people that don’t necessarily get along with their family, power tools are definitely the way to go. There is no suggestion or encouragement of getting together before some required occasion, like family gathering holiday, a family reunion, a wedding, or a funeral. Also, with power tools there is always the opportunity for them to build a fence or some other structure that may assist in keeping you away from each other. Again, that is only if you don’t get along.

If you do get along, power tools can always be used as devices to encourage activities that can bring you together, such as building a new deck for that grill and all those gifted implements to aid in the art of grilling.

Now if you are wondering why these gifts are the “ol’ reliable” of all possible gifts for men, all I can say is that it’s a guy thing. It’s kind of like me asking why a candle is the always reliable gift to give a woman if you are stumped on what to get them. I don’t know why, but I do know that if it smells nice then I get extra points for that. I don’t know what those points are for or how I can check to see how many I have, I just know they exist and that they are important.

Yes I am generalizing, and to be perfectly fair my sweetie-baby-cutie-pie-wifey-pooh is much more guy-like in her appreciation from tools than I am, but for the purpose of this overly stereotyped Smirk, grilling toys and power tools are the “go-to” always perfect gift for an guy on any occasion. Yes, most of the time we are that simple.

Now I concede that this may be just a centralized phenomenon for the area in which I grew up and the family I have. So I’d love to hear any feedback on additional “always reliable” gifts that you have given or received for Father’s Day over the years.

Image Sources:
Google Images, keywords: present for dad, power tools, and giving candles.

© Richard Timothy 2011

Doppelgangers and Smirky Suggestions

Doppelgangers and Smirky Suggestions

If there is one thing about the world wide series of tubes that we call the web, it’s that it makes it much easier to find your doppelganger. In my case, he was the one to invite me to be his friend on Facebook. Well, maybe he’s not exactly a doppelganger, but when I first saw his name on my invite list, I did have to wonder. His name is Timothy Richard, and… well, I think that’s about all the doppelness involved. I mean we look nothing alike and since he’s really a nice guy, and not evil in any way, it pretty much blows the whole evil twin element out of the doppelganger connection.

In fact, he doesn’t even have a goatee. I mean come on, if there is only one universal truth that we should all have learned from the Mirror, Mirror episode of the original Star Trek series it’s that your evil twin has a goatee. And, since I’m the one with the facial hair I know that this Timothy chap is in no way a doppelganger… ahhh, damn it! I guess based on Star Trekian logic that makes me the evil one.

I suppose that’s the problem with facial hair. You’ll always be mistaken as the evil twin… if you happen to have a twin. Although I’m not sure how that works with the opposite sex. I don’t remember any evil goatee toting female twins on that episode. Maybe their hair is the exact opposite color instead?

So this Timothy guy (with the doppelgangish name) sent me a message the other day. No, he has no intentions on taking over the world… but, since he’s the good one I guess it would be more accurate to say he has no plans on establishing world peace and blaming it all on me. Does the evil twin thing work like that? In the whole cross dimensional playground of life, does your evil twin, if you are the evil one, do acts of kindness in your name? Thus doing things you would never have done and blaming you for them?

Makes you wonder… I mean in a cross dimension realm of evil twins is there a vegetarian Jeffrey Dahmer who has opened a soup kitchen to feed the homeless? Or a Saddam Hussein who has been received the Humanitarian or the Year award. Or how about an Ingrid Newkirk (PETA Founder) that owns a chain of Steakhouses. Oh, or a Stephenie Meyers that no one has ever heard of, but writes really good novels.

The point is (I knew we’d get there eventually) Timothy’s message. It was a Smirk request, which I liked on two accounts. I like that idea and I like that he asked me to Smirk about it. I would have started on today if it had not been for that whole doppelganger tangent. Thanks for making the request Timothy. I’ll get Smirking on the suggestion soon.

Timothy’s suggestion did get me thinking. I’ve had people in the past send me a news article, or comment on something, or ask me to tell the story about a random reference I made to them at some point, and a number of these have turned into their very own Smirk. I don’t recall anyone actually making the request to make it one though. I think the request to write a Smirk about a specified topic is a little different experience for me, but I appreciate the interaction involved with sending me the suggestion.

So, I want to open it up and invite any of you motivated to do so to send me a Smirk request, suggestion, idea, tangent, etc. E-mail it to me at: [email protected] or send a message to me via Facebook. I look forward to hearing from you and seeing what happens as a result.

Image Sources:
Google Image, key words: doppelganger, evil twin, and suggestion box.

Doppelgangers and Smirky Suggestions

Getting Tippy in Vegas

One thing I noticed about Vegas, it is a very tippy town. Of course it’s also a very tipsy town. Still, tipping in Vegas is just as common of a practice as drinking in Vegas. The thing is, getting tipsy there is a very simple process and the casinos are very eager and willing to accommodate any who are seeking that type of Vegas experience. Tipping on the other hand, although an easy process to take part in, is a very confusing process for a carry-your-own-bags type of personality such as myself.

Here’s what happened, on the second night in Vegas we had reserved a suite at the MGM Grand to do some training for about 20 to 30 people who had gone to Vegas for the same business training that my sweetie-baby-cutie-pie-wifey-pooh had gone there for. After the training, we had some Hawaiian BBQ and a luau party, along with some entertainment. The entertainment… dancers! I know what you are thinking, but the dancing did stay in theme with the party and the dancers wore traditional island outfits and performed traditional island dances in which all of the dancers remained clothed. That in and of itself may seem like a bit of an enigma for Vegas, but for the purpose and theme of the evening it was perfect.

The grooviest part of this whole experience was that the hotel was feeling rather randomly generous that day and upgraded our room to a high end suite for no additional cost. When we arrived with all the party supplies we had the bellboy, who was really a bellman but still seemed content on being referred to as a boy that based on his title alone was in charge of ringing the bells for the hotel, unload the car and place all our supplies on a luggage cart.

He was very clear that we would not be seeing him again, and that he would not be the one to drop off our luggage at our room. He pointed this out to us three different times. After he filled up a luggage cart we understanding the not so subtle hints he was dropping, tipped him a few dollars and headed to our room. When we got there a completely different “boy” showed up with our luggage cart and proceeded to unload it for us. The main problem I had with this and with loading up the cart was that it just makes me feel a little useless and odd not knowing how to react to the situation. I wanted to help out, because that’s how I was raised, but both “boy ala bells” was very adamant that I do no such thing.

After the cart was unloaded the “boy” came over to me asked for the cart ticket we had been given when the cart was first loaded up. I handed it to him with a $5 bill. He looked at the bill and opened it up to see if there was more than one bill inside. When there wasn’t he looked back at me with a “Seriously!?!” look on his face to which I responded, “Thank you!” in one of my friendly tones, and with that he left.

It did get me thinking though. Apparently I had taken part in some tipping faux pas. At least when I comes to tipping for your food there is a standard set up that I can mathematically figure out and take part in. I was almost bothered by the “boys” reaction, but we had to quickly get everything set up for the party, and I was responsible for mixing a vat of spirited juice for the attendees. Also, we scored an amazing room. It was around 2200 sq. feet and we were on the 17th floor. The room had a deck with a fabulous view overlooking the strip, which just so happened to have a hot tub on it.

During the stay in Vegas my thoughts eventually went back to this whole tipping thing and confusion began to set in. Here’s how the subject began to unravel in my head…
Tipping your server in a restaurant is around 15 to 20% of the cost of your meal. This is a common standard for the US. So how does that equate to baggage handlers? I mean apparently you have to tip the bellboy who unloads your car, and then you tip the bellboy who unloads your luggage cart. You also tip the valet person that takes your car and then you tip them when they return your car. Is there a percentage associated with the tip based on room cost? If there is a scale, what is considered correct? It is 1% or 5% or what exactly? I know it can’t be the same food, mainly because the service you get for the span of a meal could be up anywhere between 30 minutes to 2+ hours. Unloading your baggage cart takes maybe 10 minutes top. Granted there is a bit more heaving lifting, but still.

Also, how does this percentage work with upgrades? If I reserve a room that is $200 a night and get upgraded to a room that is $1000 a night, am I then required to tip at the new room rate vs. the original room rate? I don’t think you would, but maybe you are? Does that go along with cars as well? Do you tip a valet guy more if you drive a more expensive car vs. a cheap car? Or is there just one standard fee? Also, with the valet, or even taxis, do you tip more if there are more people in the car?

And another thing, we had a cleaning lady show up to get the room ready for bedtime, something I’ve not experienced since I was 5 and my mother would come into my room to tuck me in at night, although this was a bit different. Some nice lady showed up and took away all of the trash from the party. Then she went up to our room and placed some robes on the bed and folded open the sheets to the bed so we could easily climb into bed without having to take an extra second or two to personally grab the corner of the bed sheet and fold it down and then climb into bed. It too was an odd little experience and at the end, it was once again tip time. Once again begging the question, how much do you tip these people? Is this also equated to the cost of the room you are in, or if it is an upgrade do you use the room you were initially intended to be in? Is there an equation that can be used to quickly figure out these sums? Or is it just some standard fee?

And while I’m on the topic, I do feel it important to point out that if you are a food server and you take care of a table of 6 or more people (I believe that is the standard) were you automatically add an 18% gratuity and then you intentionally don’t tell the party that in hopes that you’ll get double tips, well then you are an evil, wicked, mean, and bad, and nasty person and I hope you get a severe case facial herpes which always flares around your mouth so that no one will ever want to kiss you again. Sure, some might call that a bit harsh, but I choose to call it suggestive karma.

On a different note, but still on the same topic, if you are at a restaurant, and you and your dining party stay for an extended period of time catching up, laughing, telling jokes, sobering up, whatever really, and spend over a three hour period at your table, remember that your server has had to put up with you and serve you for that time and has lost tips because you are taking up a table that someone else could have used for a meal and tipped the server for. The point is you really need to tip them more that the customary 15%. I’d recommend doubling your tip for them. Or if you are one of those people that just meets for coffee at a restaurant and purchase a cup of endless coffee and decide to spend two hours there drinking coffee and ordering nothing else, make sure you drop a dollar or two for each hour you spend there as a tip to your server. It too is a karma issue.

Needless to say, Vegas did leave me a little tipped out when we left. I’m sure there is a cell phone app out there that is more than willing to answer all of my Vegas tipping questions, but that would require me to get a new cell phone that would allow me to add apps to my phone, and that is one gamble that I am just not willing to make.

Is anyone else as perplexed by this extended tipping practice, or is it just me?

Image Sources:
Google Images, key words: tips, bellboy, MGM suite deck, confused man, and friends at dinner.

Bumper Stickers… The Tattoos of the Automotive World

Bumper Stickers… The Tattoos of the Automotive World

This is something I found on that internet thingy the other day that, well, made me laugh.

It was a product recommendation by Cory Doctorow on Here’s what he wrote:

“Looking for an automobile decor element that proudly proclaims your devotion to the earliest, persecuted science fiction fans that huddled in catacombs, scratching crude ray guns into the walls? Look no further.”

It’s the type of thing I just might be tempted to get and put on my car. If you are interested in getting one, or some, or many, here is the link I found for ordering them: Click here. I’m not sure who came up with the image and yes it is one of the many fish parodies, but it does make me smile. Plus I have many sci-fi fan friends that I believe would appreciate a bumper sticker of this caliber… or laser diameter, or something.

I think even my dad would giggle a bit. No, he’d never put it on his car, but he might put it on the fridge or tape it on his office wall. Over the years I’ve noticed that bumper stickers are essentially the tattoos of the automotive world. And just like some people would never get a tattoo, some people would never put a tattoo on their car. Al though I think there might be more people out there that have tattoos than have bumper stickers. The reason? Easy, its much easier to hide a tattoo than a bumper sticker. They are very useful profiling tools for other drivers, which allow them to make two possible conclusions about you as a person.

They either like you or hate you. Well, sort of. I think at the core, no matter what they might say about you in the confines of their car, the two key opinions they will ultimately have is that they either want you to live or they want you to die. It might be a friendly muttering such as, “Ha, I’d like to buy them a drink.” Or, say in the event that an avid hunter person following someone that has a PETA sticker on their bumper the muttering might be more along the lines of, “That (expletive deleted) (expletive deleted) squirrel (expletive deleted), they should just (expletive deleted) die!”

Now take that same person, put their kids in the car and their religious wife, and you might get something like, “Those kinds of people just fail to realize that animals are here for us to eat.” See, they still don’t like you much, but there is no longer the death element, nor their rooting for your demise… at least verbally.

It’s funny to me how some cars, like some people have an over active desire to cover large portions of their exterior with tattoos. The pros and cons seem to be the same too. If you take care of them they continue to look good as both you and they age. If you stop taking care of them and yourself… tattoos can become that reminder of something you didn’t ever want to be reminded of, in an old faded, worn and used kind of way.

As we get older our view and perspectives change and as with some tattoos that people choose to cover up with something new and more them, sometimes that old bumper sticker to put in twenty years ago, finally needs to be covered up with something newer and more you. For some it’s finally covering up that “84 Mondale/Ferraro” sticker with a “Palin 2012-2014½.” sticker. Which I think is also an amusing example of the evolution of a believer to a cynic.

One thing about auto tattoos is that when the car moves on to a new owner, so do the tattoos. I’ve met a number of people that have purchased used cars and they keep the bumper stickers on the car, at least for a few years, before a removal operation is attempted. Usually I’m told that it has something to do with them being part of the car’s personality. I personally think that it’s more a case of laziness. Then again, there may be some people out there that enjoy the punkish personification their car exudes as a result of the Black Flag and Dead Kennedys stickers on the back bumper… even if the new owner is strictly an Ethel Merman kind of musical appreciator… or Jewel. Jewel works too.

Personally, I’m all for bumper stickers. It gives people who need it the opportunity to practice reading, and it gives others the opportunity to something to read while stopped at signs and lights that hopefully, more ofter than not, make you smile instead of annoy you. I do want to point out though, that if you are one of those people that gets a laugh from the bumper stick you put on your car about your other means of transportation being “my mom”. There are a few things to consider before putting this on your car. First, you are clearly advertising that you are so incompetent of a driver that you often have to rely the constant charity of older women to give you a lift to where ever it is you are going. Also, if your motivation for putting this bumper sticker on your car is to express some sort of derogatory connotation, just remember that you are sharing with everyone on the road that you enjoy dating women who have been dead for quite some time. In short, get help… lots and lots of professional help.

All that being said, I think it’s time that I don my car with a bumper sticker that’s, well, me. After spending about an hour searching for worthwhile bumper stickers, here are my top 5 choices:

• You can’t be both Pro-life and anti-zombie.
• Thesaurus: ancient reptile with an excellent vocabulary.
• Dyslexics are teople poo.
• …

You know what’s sad. After looking at over 300 bumper stickers, I was only able to find three that I kind of liked and one of them was on a tee shirt and not a bumper sticker. I noticed that most bumper stickers are insulting and designed to express some type of negativity. I feel like Donald Sutherland in Kelly’s Heroes repeated line, “What’s with all the negative waves?” Maybe I need to look for a different approach to the bumper sticker concept.

I think I’m going to have to come up with my own and have it custom made. Something like, “The Turtle Moves.” or “Rowsdower.” or something like that. I’m sure there’s plenty more I could come up with simply by borrowing lines from some of my favorite books. If any of you have any brilliant bumper sticker ideas please feel free to share. I’ll tell you what, if I use your idea for a custom made bumper sticker, I’ll get at least two made and send you one as well. Deal? Deal. I’ll announce the bumper sticker next month.

Image Sources: and Google Images, key words: bumper stickers, tattoos, shoe bumper stickers, and old driver.