Category: personal

Bryce’s Handy Guide to Car Cleaning

Cleaning your car. Such a pain, right? I mean, washing the outside is pretty easy these days. You can just drive it through one of those automatic washes, and you get the side bonus of either entertaining any children you have in the backseat, or traumatizing them for life. Either way, it’ll make for a memorable ten minutes.

But cleaning the inside? That’s a real chore. You’ve got to get your vacuum out there somehow, and even then, that car isn’t getting clean-clean. It’s just getting cleaner. The dashboard’s still going to be dusty, the nooks and crannies really need washing, and don’t even think about looking in the trunk.

To thoroughly clean a car, you almost need to devote hours of work, or you need to get it detailed. But a good detailing service can cost a hundred dollars or more. Once you’ve paid all that money, how are you going to afford to even eat that month? What’s a penny pincher to do?

Friends, I’m here with the answer. It’s a lifehack that takes the money you’re almost definitely already paying anyway for that car, and turns all of it into a time saving cheat code.

Step one: Make sure your car insurance is up to date. This is critical.

Step two: Go out and find a deer. Ram into it at speeds of at least . . . 40mph.

Step three: ???

Step four: profit.

I mean, sure. There are some less than ideal phases of that plan. Some things that are painful to you and painful to the deer. But this is car cleanliness we’re talking about. You’ve got to make some sacrifices, and there are too many deer out there anyway.

Once you’ve hit the deer, you’ve likely incurred thousands of dollars of damage to your car. But if your insurance is good, you’re only going to be on the hook for $100 of that. A really good detailing package (that includes a rental car) will cost like $200. Imagine this ad in the newspaper:

Complete car detailing package. Half off! Buy NOW and get 50 lbs of venison and FREE car rental for TWO WEEKS!

Tell me you wouldn’t be tempted.

In other news, my Prius is already fixed and I’m back in business. And Hilltop Collision does an excellent cleaning job on your vehicle whenever they work on it. We’re talking top notch. (And I should know, having now taken my car there after hitting two deer, a turkey, and a lawn tractor . . .)

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

The Many Stages of a Snow Day

It’s November 12th. I’m sure some of you are still enjoying autumnal weather. You might even still have leaves on your trees. But up here in Maine, it snowed and then turned into a wintry mix today, so the whole fam got a snow day. (A moment of silence, please, for the many Mainers who don’t get snow days at work, and they are legion. But one of the huge perks (in my book) of working in education is that I continue to get them, and Denisa does as well, since she teaches at the university. I do feel somewhat guilty whenever I post about my snow days, knowing I’ve got lots of neighbors who don’t get the same luxury, but . . . I can’t help myself. Sorry.)

I thought I’d take a minute to go through the many stages of a snow day, tracing the arc they go through as they enter your life and then leave it. This will make more sense as I go through it.

First: Awareness. A week before a storm, you first begin to hear rumblings that a storm might reach critical mass, culminating in a day off work and school. This is very early on, and you recognize that the odds are still stacked against you, but you begin to hope. To dream. And that helps even the dullest day shine brighter. (It’s true that sometimes snow days completely skip this step. Stealth snow days, we’ll call them, where a storm materializes ex nihilo. But almost all of them give you some heads up before.

Second: Denial. As the storm approaches, you begin trying to convince yourself that there’s no way it’s actually going to happen. You couldn’t get that lucky. The storm will be a whiff. You build up protective layers around that hope, preparing yourself for disappointment. Often, this ends up being important, as the snow storm you thought would be so awesome gets downgraded into just a few flurries.

Third: Preparedness. At this point, you’re beginning to face the fact that this storm is going to come, and there’s a very real possibility you won’t have to go to work or school. Despite your best efforts to remain in Stage Two, you begin to toy with the many things you might do if you were to get the day off. The chores that could get done. The way you wouldn’t squander that gift of time. If you had an extra day . . .

Fourth: Anger. Your hopes get to the point that you begin to feel entitled to that snow day, and yet you realize it might still be snatched away from you. What if it snows, but the Powers That Be don’t give you the day off? What if they just don’t understand the sort of risks the entire town will be taking if the streets are flooded with cars and busses on the way to work and school? What if they make you come in out of sheer spite or ignorance? Surely they can see a major storm. Still, you go to sleep the night before a potential snow day, nervous as a naughty kid the night before Christmas. Hopeful. Fairly optimistic. But still cognizant that it could all vanish in a puff of flurries.

Fifth: Fitfulness. You wake up multiple times, checking the clock and your phone to see if there are any alerts. 4am. Still nothing. 5am. The kids’ school gets canceled. 5:30. Still nothing about your work. You try to keep sleeping, but you’re bouncing back and forth between all the earlier stages. Anger. Awareness. Denial. Preparedness. But your snow day has turned into Schrödinger’s Cat. It is both present and not present at the same time, and until that final alert comes in, you have no idea how your day will be.

Sixth: Euphoria. The alert comes through, and there is much rejoicing. You bask in the glow of the knowledge that your dream came true, and you vow you will accomplish All the Things.

Seventh: Nap. Exhausted from your fitful sleep, you slip into a real rest at last, comforted by the knowledge that the world is your oyster today. You deserve more sleep. You’ve earned it, after all. This snow day happened because you willed it to happen.

Eighth: Wakefulness. Realizing you’ve slept longer than you intended, you get up at last and vow to get some of that To Do list done. Right after you have a nice breakfast. And do the crossword. And maybe read for a while. And check the news.

Ninth: Concern. The day is slipping away from you. You’ve had fun, sure, but there are only a few hours left before you’d have been home from work anyway, and that To Do list is still a mile long. You begin to wonder if someone didn’t sneak in and steal some of your time when you weren’t looking. After all, you had the whole day. Where is it going?

Tenth: Acceptance. So you’re not going to get everything done. So you got almost nothing of your list done, actually. You still had the day. You still had fun. You check the weather forecast, hoping another storm might be somewhere on the horizon. You go back to the first stage, and repeat the cycle again.

Where am I right now? Well, I skipped the nap stage, because this isn’t my first rodeo. I’m churning through my to do list quite well, actually, and I’ve plenty of fun in the morning already. Do enough snow days, and you can actually break free of the cycle and have fun and be productive. But that’s for the advanced course . . .

Happy snow day, and thanks for reading!

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

The Deerslayer

I’ve never really been much of a hunter. Never fired a gun that wasn’t powered by air. Never sat in a tree stand. I’ve fished plenty, but when it comes to hunting, I just haven’t seen the appeal. It’s cold. It can be wet. And you’re killing something at the end of it. I don’t mind other people hunting, but for me, hunting is a lot like ballet. I get that it’s a thing for many people, but it’s not really a thing for me.

That said, deer hunting season did just open in Maine a few days ago, and my Facebook feed has been filled with shots of various successful hunters. Maybe all of those pictures somehow made me jealous. Perhaps deep inside of me was a hunter just waiting to bust out. But when a hunter wants to hunt, and doesn’t have a rifle, what’s he supposed to do?

I had to improvise. And really, which takes more skill: sitting in a tree stand for hours on end waiting for a deer to show up, and then using a deadly weapon specifically designed to kill that deer . . .

Or go hunting the deer on your own, using a weapon no sane person would choose to use?

Like, say . . . a Toyota Prius.

And before any of you naysayers claim there’s no possible way I could successfully hunt down a deer with a battery-powered hybrid vehicle, allow me to remind you of a certain incident seven months ago. The deer got away that time. It wasn’t so lucky this time.

I was just getting in my car for a drive to Waterville for a church meeting, and not a quarter of a mile away from my house, a deer popped up in the road. I’d like to say my killer instincts took over, throwing little things like “fiscal responsibility” to the wind so that I might have a chance of bagging a deer, but in reality, it was all over before I could do much more than try to slam on the brakes.

My headlight was broken. The deer was dead.

In Maine, you’re supposed to arrange for someone to take the deer. (You won’t find any roadkill by the side of the road up here. People take it and eat it. Not after it’s rotting, obviously, but for that deer last night, nothing was wrong with it (other than a lethal blow to its head by my right headlight). The meat was all still good. Why let it go to waste?

I called a friend, called the cops, and forty minutes later, I was back on the road. I’d reloaded, however: I took the Prius back to the house and proceeded out in the Civic.

Would I recommend hunting with a Prius? Not really. At this point, I now have to deal with insurance and repairs, and I’m going to have to pay for a deductible and all that fun stuff. But I can at least say with authority now that if you’re really hard up for a deer, if you just drive around the streets of Maine long enough, chances are you’re going to find one.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Are You Still Going to Movies in the Theater?

Growing up, I was always heading to the movie theater. I loved the whole experience. The big screen. The crowds. The snacks. It was a real event for me. And I’ve always thought of myself as a movie-going person.

Except today it occurred to me to consider how long it’s been since I saw a movie in the theater. I think the last one I went to was Avengers: End Game. Before that? Maybe another Marvel movie? Or a Star Wars movie? The fact is, the only reason I actually go to movies these days seems to be if I’m worried I’m going to read something about the movie online before I can get around to watching it.

Why is that?

Some of it is no doubt due to the fact that my home theater setup is so strong. Why pay to watch a movie when I could just see it at home and have mostly the same experience? Often a better experience, even. I don’t have to worry about having to go to the bathroom and missing some of the film. I don’t have to worry about any idiots being loud behind me. I don’t have to fuss with getting seats, or getting there early, or buying tickets. The only thing I miss out on is the shared experience of watching something with a bunch of other people.

Though don’t get me wrong. I definitely think there’s something to be said for that. Seeing a movie in the theater is like watching a football game live in a stadium, or at least it can be. Sure, there’s the risk of things going wrong, but when it goes right, it’s a ton of fun.

At last year’s Oscar’s, I realized I hadn’t seen hardly any of the films, and I wanted to change that this year. But here I am, already in November, and I’ve gone to the theater twice. Maybe.

Part of the reason is also no doubt due to how busy Denisa and I are right now, but I generally don’t look at busy-ness as a real reason. It’s an excuse for why you don’t do things that aren’t as important to you. Ideally, going to movies would be a great weekly date night activity that Denisa and I could get in the habit of doing. I think I would enjoy that, though that also brings up the question: if we stay at home and watch a movie together, is that significantly not as good from a relationship-building experience as it would be if we were to go out to a movie?

I’m a bit more undecided about that last one. On the one hand, we’re spending time together one way or the other. On the other . . . I think there’s something to be said for the ritual around going out. Making sure you look presentable. Being away from any potential distractions. Carving out time to make sure you can both really be there. It’s not a question of funds at this point; it’s just a question of scheduling.

What do you all think about movies and date nights in general? If you’re able to watch a movie with your significant other at home, alone, is that an equal substitute? Why or why not? I’m genuinely curious to see what you all have to say.

And the more I think about it, the more I think Denisa and I need to start scheduling actual date nights . . .

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Wearing a Name Tag

I wore a name tag for years and years. The first one I ever put on was my name tag for my first job at McDonald’s. (Neon pink shirt and hat. Who thought that was a good color for a uniform? I ask you.) Right off, I wasn’t a fan of the tag. I wasn’t really sure why I had to wear one, and it was always a pet peeve whenever someone would come to the register, glance at my name tag, and then call me by my first name, like we were some long lost friends. I didn’t know them. Why were they using my name like that?

Then I went on a mission to Germany for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For that, I had to wear a name tag at all times: the familiar black shield with “Elder Cundick” on it in my case. For some reason, the badge didn’t elicit the same response in me as my fast food emblem had received. Maybe some of it is that it wasn’t my first name people were using, so it didn’t feel as casual. Maybe some of it was that in many ways, my name was the best thing that distinguished me from all the other missionaries serving with me. (Other than my charming personality, of course.) You can start to feel like a cog in a machine when you’re on a mission at times, and it helps to hold on to whatever part of you still makes you . . . you. (Not a criticism of the mission, by the way. I still view it as one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.)

I came home, and it was time for name tags again. This time at the Harold B. Lee Library at BYU. Once again, it was just my first name, and once again, it bothered me to have people actually use my first name. So clearly the two years on my mission didn’t change my feelings of that approach. Ah well. I continued to have a name tag at Orem Public Library as well, with the same results. Why did people even need to know my name, for crying out loud?

It was even worse at conferences. At the time, I was pretty much only going to writing conferences, and it felt like everyone was going around looking at name badges, hunting for an agent or an editor or someone important to talk to. They’d glance at my name tag and dismiss me. I didn’t like that feeling either.

Things began to change somewhat for me when I moved to Maine. For one thing, my new job had nothing like a name tag in sight. I thought it was great. No more first name “friendliness,” with an emphasis on the quotation marks. Of course, when I went to conferences for my library job, name tags were everywhere. Again, I didn’t mind as much. Now, I appreciated the reminder of what everyone’s name was. I didn’t really care that much where they were from or what they did, except as a conversation starter. But speaking as a person who has a really hard time remembering names and faces, I began to be thankful for the reminders.

Last week, I ordered name tags for all my staff at the library, and I’ve started wearing a badge at work again for the first time in 12 years. Why the sudden shift? For one thing, I’m no longer that worried about people using my first name anymore. Somewhere along the way, that irritation left me. Maybe some of it is that almost everything at my university happens on a first name basis. Most professors have their students call them by their first name, even. (That never happened at BYU.) Some of it might be because now I want people to know who I am. I want to be seen and to be able to answer questions when they come up.

I haven’t told my staff they need to wear name tags. It’s totally up to them. And when I first put in the order, I wasn’t planning on wearing one myself. But now that I have for a few days . . . I see no need to stop. Maybe it’ll grow old after a while, but for now, it’s here to stay.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve posted the entirety of my book ICHABOD in installments, and I’m now putting up chapters from PAWN OF THE DEAD, another of my unreleased books. Where else are you going to get the undead and muppets all in the same YA package? Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

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